Ken Cuccinelli's crusade against sodomy

The Virginia attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate fights to save the state's "Crimes Against Nature" law

Ken Cuccinelli
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Virginia Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is campaigning hard on all the big issues of the day: Taxes, jobs, and sodomy.

Yes, Cuccinelli has spent time on the trail defending Virginia's old "Crimes Against Nature" law, which outlawed oral and anal sex between consenting adults, and which was struck down earlier this year by a federal appeals court. This week, he debuted a new website explaining how his support for that now-unconstitutional law is really about protecting kids from sexual predators.

"Keep Virginia Kids Safe!" the site declares, adding that 90 registered sex offenders who were charged under the sodomy law could come off the sexual registry if that law is not upheld. Cuccinelli claims that he is not trying to ban all sodomy, and that the law only applies to "sodomy committed against minors, against non-consenting adults, or in public."

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"In fact, contrary to misinformation peddled by Terry McAuliffe [the Democratic gubernatorial candidate] and his liberal allies against the defenders of this law, the law is not — and cannot be — used against consenting adults acting in private," a statement on the site reads.

The text of the law states that "any person" who "carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth, or voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge, he or she shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony."

A federal appeals court in March struck down the state's sodomy law, citing the landmark 2003 Supreme Court case of Lawrence v. Texas that determined states could not outlaw private, consensual sex of any sort between two adults. The Virginia case involved a man, William MacDonald, who while in his 40s solicited oral sex from two 16- and 17-year-old women, and was prosecuted under the sodomy law. In Virginia, the age of consent is 15, so MacDonald fought his conviction on the grounds that both partners were legal adults and that he should therefore be protected by the Lawrence precedent.

Cuccinelli appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court in June and, under attack for continuing to defend what critics say is an anti-gay law, has now gone on the offensive to accuse McAuliffe of endangering children. A McAuliffe spokesman responded to that claim by charging that Cuccinelli's actions showed his "extreme agenda and uncompromising approach."

"Everyone supports strong laws to protect children, and, like most Virginians, Terry believes our laws should be updated to both conform with court rulings and allow prosecution of predators," that spokesman, Josh Schwerin, said in a statement.

While running for attorney general in 2009, Cuccinelli explained that he opposed all "homosexual acts."

"My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong," he said at the time. "They're intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural-law-based country it's appropriate to have policies that reflect that."

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