Virginia's House of Delegates Repeals Sodomy Ban

The bill, which revises the state's longstanding 'Crimes Against Nature' statute, was passed unanimously and is awaiting the signature of Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

BY Daniel Reynolds

March 07 2014 2:52 PM ET

Ken Cuccinelli

Virginia lawmakers have approved legislation that will overturn the state's longstanding sodomy ban.

The state’s House of Delegates unanimously passed a bill Thursday (100-0) that revises Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature” statute, which criminalizes oral and anal sex between consulting adults regardless of sexual orientation, reports The Washington Post.

The current legislation, which will limit “crimes against nature” to bestiality and incest, passed in the Senate last month after a committee modified a former version proposed by Sen. Thomas A. Garrett that may not have offered protections for consensual acts between teenagers. The revised bill is awaiting the signature of Gov. Terry McAuliffe before it goes into effect.

While the end of the ban is mostly symbolic, as the 2003 Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas found all state sodomy laws to be unconstitutional, this action will prevent its use for the prosecution of other sex crimes. Last year the state’s former attorney general Ken Cuccinelli tried and failed to revive the statute to this effect.

Despite the ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which found state prohibition of sex acts between consenting adults to be an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, several states still have sodomy bans, including Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.

A lawmaker is trying to pass similiar legislation that would take an antisodomy law off the books in Louisiana but is facing opposition from conservative groups. The antisodomy law had been used to arrest gay men for having consensual sex as recently as last summer by an East Baton Rouge sheriff, who claimed he was unaware that the law had been invalidated by the Supreme Court.

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