Most Americans would recoil at the thought their private moments with a spouse or lover were under control of the state, and at the rate Republicans are dictating morality it is not an unfounded fear that certain acts would be regarded as illegal by the Puritanical wing of the Republican Party. There are valid assumptions that Republican opposition to women choosing their own reproductive health is an overbearing attempt to control their sexuality, but the GOP hardly admits that is their intent. However, once again an anti-gay crusader and fundamentalist in Virginia is renewing his attempt to ban consensual sex acts that he considers “Crimes Against Nature.” On Tuesday, gubernatorial candidate and current Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli launched a website, Keep Virginia Children Safe to garner support for banning consensual sex and accuse his Democratic opponent of “playing politics instead of protecting our children.” Cuccinelli has long wanted to control what goes on in the privacy of Virginians’ bedrooms, and his latest ploy is a continuing effort to impose his Puritanical sensibilities on Virginia residents and score electoral points with evangelical voters.
The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that laws banning and criminalizing consensual gay sex were unconstitutional, and instead of purging sodomy laws from the books, Virginia kept the prohibitions in force. Fast forward to last March when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Cuccinelli’s attempt to impose Virginia’s “Crime Against Nature” law citing the ten year old Supreme Court decision invalidating state laws criminalizing sexual activity between consenting adults. At the time, a Virginia American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legal director commented that it was “shameful Virginia continued to prosecute individuals under the sodomy statute for 10 years after the Supreme Court held that such laws are unconstitutional,” and hoped “this ruling brings an end to such prosecutions.” It was a false hope because Virginia’s fanatical gubernatorial candidate rejected the panel’s ruling and threatened to go before the full 4th Circuit panel of 15 judges to convince them to criminalize sex acts he objects to. Last month Cuccinelli asked the United States Supreme Court to rule that consensual oral and anal sex between gay and heterosexual couples be re-criminalized because he considers them crimes against nature.
Cuccinelli claims his appeal to reverse the 2003 High Court decision has nothing to do with his “abhorrence of homosexual acts,” but his opposition stems from his belief they are a crime against god’s laws. After the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling prohibiting states from criminalizing oral sex between consenting married couples, a bipartisan group in Virginia supported a bill to change Virginia’s Crimes Against Nature law to comply with the High Court ruling. Cuccinelli helped defeat the bi-partisan bill, and stated in 2009 that he supported prohibitions on sexual behavior between consenting adults because his “view is that homosexual acts, are intrinsically wrong. And I think it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that. They don’t comport with natural law.” It is typical for religious extremists to decide what is appropriate regardless the law of the land, and since he believes “natural law” is his purview, a new website and appeal to anti-gay Associate Justice Antonin Scalia will convince the conservative majority to overturn their 2003 decision and criminalize consensual sex Cuccinelli claims are crimes against nature.
Violating Virginia’s Crimes Against Nature law carries a sentence of between one and five years in prison for “engaging in oral and anal sex between consenting adults, gay or straight, married or single, and makes such carnal acts a felony.” Cuccinelli supported the Puritanical law before he became a candidate for governor, so creating a website is more than just a campaign tactic, it informs his years-long crusade to monitor married, unmarried, gay, and heterosexual couples and control what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms. The danger of a High Court ruling in Cuccinelli’s favor is the precedent will apply nationally and 90% of men and women in America between the age of 25 and 44 would be criminals. In Virginia, with 64% of the population between the ages of 18 and 65, over 4 million Virginians would be guilty of committing crimes against nature (bible edicts) regardless it is in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Even though the High Court just ruled on a similar case 10 years ago, the current mood of conservatives on the Court portends a vengeance ruling to punish same-sex couples is not out of the realm of possibility.
After the intemperate screed Scalia unleashed after the High Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and sent California’s Prop 8 into oblivion, it is likely he is chomping at the bit to get vengeance and criminalize sexual acts between gay couples who prevailed in their struggle for marriage equality. Scalia railed on the liberal court’s ruling on gay marriage and in his dissent said, “When the Court declared a constitutional right to homosexual sodomy (in 2003), we were assured that the case had nothing, nothing at all to do with whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter. Now we are told DOMA is invalid because it demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects.” Scalia, like Cuccinelli, cannot possibly accept that the Constitution protects all Americans’ rights, and despite the Supreme Court ruling that what transpires between two consenting adults in private is protected by the 14th Amendment, Cuccinelli is hopeful Scalia will convince conservatives to re-criminalize sex acts between consenting adults because like most fanatics, Cuccinelli believes his moral judgment, and not the U.S. Constitution, is the supreme law of the land.
It is unlikely the High Court will give Cuccinelli the ruling, and power, he wants to ban oral sex between consenting adults because they have already ruled such laws are “an unconstitutional intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.” However, laws restricting abortion rights are also an intrusion into the personal and private life of women unless “the fetus is viable outside the womb” at well over 20 weeks, and many states are passing restrictions regardless the Court’s ruling. Like restricting women’s right to choose, Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature” law is unconstitutional and unlikely to be a winner in the courts, but apparently Cuccinelli’s campaign thinks it will win the gubernatorial contest and if it does, Puritanical sensibilities will control consenting adults’ sex lives in Virginia.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.