Cuccinelli and ‘Crimes Against Nature’

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, now running for governor of that state and a rising star on the Christian right, is asking the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to grant an en banc rehearing and uphold the constitutionality of their anti-sodomy law, which was struck down by the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v Texas ruling in 2003.

The case involves a 47 year old man who solicited oral sex from teenage girls who were over the age of consent, which meant they could not prosecute him under the statutory rape laws. So they tried to prosecute him instead under the sodomy laws, which forbid all oral or anal sex between consenting adults, whether they are of the same gender or opposite genders. A three judge appeals court panel ruled that this law could not be applied because of Lawrence, which is the right ruling. But here’s the punchline:

The campaign of Virginia state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli won’t say if he’s committed any crimes against nature.

That’s what the Virginia law calls oral and anal sex, crimes against nature. If Cuccinelli has ever gotten a blowjob, he has committed the very same crime against nature that he now wants to convict someone else of committing. But I’m sure he hasn’t. After all, that would make him a hypocrite.

37 comments on this post.
  1. CaitieCat:

    Tell you what, though, i don’t think i’d want to be the woman legislator in the position of needing to vote against that bill. The attack ads alone would be horrific, let alone the torrent of private abuse. :(

  2. davefitz:

    I understand their motive for sodomy laws. They hate the gay. But oral sex? What is their obsession with people’s private lives? Who does this kind of political posturing appeal to? What kind of constituent thinks, “Yeah, BJs should be a crime. I support this man”. Fucking amazing!

  3. Gregory in Seattle:

    @davefitz #2 – “What is their obsession with people’s private lives?”

    The things that they themselves do in private make the Baby Jesus cry. So of course they cannot let anyone else do such things.

  4. Kengi:

    “Who does this kind of political posturing appeal to?”

    It will be a “wink and nod” game of straight privilege. It makes the sodomy law legal (in their minds) by not discriminating. Any gay sex, however, will be illegal by definition.

    When the question of straight sex comes up they can all claim “Well of course the government can’t spy in your bedroom”, so there is no way to prove that straight people violated the law. But, by definition, gay people violate the law, so they can be arrested.

    And, of course, they can also add charges to any straight people participating in prostitution, so bonus!

    It all makes perverted sense to them.

  5. matty1:

    I love that phrase ‘crimes against nature’ it sounds like it should mean environmental damage but really means icky sex stuff. It’s like the dressing on a word salad.

  6. Kengi:

    I really need to suppress my inner twelve year old here…

  7. Abby Normal:

    Funny, I’ve never noticed the astrisk on their, “Virginia is for lovers,” tourism campaign before.

  8. Scr... Archivist:

    I’m not sure I agree with some of the commenters here. I suspect that if the Authoritarians could, they would ban all sexual activity, of any kind. However, the fact that doing so would soon deny them subjects to rule over means that one exception must be allowed. But only one exception.

    Look at the recent, so-called “defense” of marriage inequality at the Supreme Court. Sexual intercourse is protected if it’s the kind that can lead to procreation. They don’t have any way around that yet.

    By the way, the Kook’s kind of government isn’t small, it’s petty.

  9. slc1:

    The sad part of this is that this fuckken asshole has a non-zero chance of being elected governor this year.

  10. robertbaden:

    There may be a historical religious reason for it. The fight between the Cathars and the Catholic Church. The Cathars did not favor bring more people into this world, from what I understand. And anyone who didn’t got labeled as a heretic.

  11. caseloweraz:

    Cuccinelli’s campaign has a “no comment” on whether he’s ever experienced carnal knowledge of an unnatural kind? That seems rather odd and “unstrategic”. I wonder what their claimed justification is.

    Oh, I see: Mother Jones says they never responded. That’s a bit different.

    About the 47-year-old man they seek to prosecute, it’s not clear from the article whether he actually succeeded with his solicitations. But I assume the answer is that he did.

  12. kraut:

    I am always amazed at the sexual politics of the US, and am stunned to the point to ask: is that guy real? He looks like some cutout from an old Monty Python skit.

  13. abb3w:

    @7, Abby Normal:

    Funny, I’ve never noticed the astrisk on their, “Virginia is for lovers,” tourism campaign before.

    That’s been a running joke here in the state since the idiots in the tourism division came up with the slogan, because of this law and a few others on the books.

  14. D. C. Sessions:

    So maybe the motto should be changed to:

    “Virginia: suck on this!”

  15. doublereed:

    If “crimes against nature” are wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

  16. Reginald Selkirk:

    CaitieCat #1: Tell you what, though, i don’t think i’d want to be the woman legislator in the position of needing to vote against that bill…

    Legislatures have developed methods for dealing with this. Practically everyone will want to vote against this, so it will probably be done with a voice vote; leaving no written record of who voted which way.

  17. Reginald Selkirk:

    Nature committing ‘crimes against nature’

  18. chilidog99:

    This has no chance of success.

  19. chilidog99:

    Or would that be, sucksex

  20. ArtK:

    @ chilidog99

    It all depends on how you define “success.” If you mean will it pass Constitutional muster? No, it’s a complete and total failure. Will it help Cucinelli’s campaign with the mouth-breathing constituency? It’ll be an absolute success. He’s standing up for what they consider “right” and “moral” against those godless whatevers. Activist judges.

  21. Ben P:

    Cuccinelli’s campaign has a “no comment” on whether he’s ever experienced carnal knowledge of an unnatural kind? That seems rather odd and “unstrategic”. I wonder what their claimed justification is.

    Oh, I see: Mother Jones says they never responded. That’s a bit different.

    About the 47-year-old man they seek to prosecute, it’s not clear from the article whether he actually succeeded with his solicitations. But I assume the answer is that he did.

    What it means is that they sent an email to Cuccinelli’s campaign office and they didn’t respond. (Probably quite rationally, because there’s no good (and truthful) way to respond to a question like that).

    As for the 47 year old man, clicking through three or four links got me to a Huffpo Story that said this

    The ruling stemmed from the 2005 conviction of William Scott MacDonald, then 47, for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and for the criminal solicitation of a 17-year-old girl to commit sodomy.

    The girl refused and reported the incident to police after MacDonald claimed she had sexually assaulted him. The predicate felony for the criminal solicitation charge was Virginia’s Crimes Against Nature law, a provision of which criminalizes sodomy.

    Ignoring the odd bit about McDonald claiming the girl assaulted him, it sounds like he propositioned her, she refused and went to the cops.

    The fact that it wasn’t directly sodomy, but a solicitation charge is an interesting, and probably why it’s gone up on appeal. Solicitation laws are odd in and of themselves.

  22. escuerd:

    Kengi @6: I know what you mean. When someone with a name like that wants to ban all sex outside the cucci…oh god damn it!

    In all seriousness, though, would it be better if the man had solicited vaginal sex from them instead of oral? Is that really the aspect of this that people consider such an outrage? It’s almost as if this were some kind of pretense for a different agenda.

    I guess people these days just aren’t willing enough to persecute gay people because they’re squicked out by the idea of gay sex. Let’s find something else they’re squicked out by (sex between people with large age differences) and use that to gain support for a law that is only incidentally related in this one particular case (Sodomy!). Perhaps that will make it seem as if the resulting persecution of gay people is merely a necessary side-effect of protecting straight young women’s virtue. Oh Ken, you clever, handsome devil, you’ve done it again!

  23. John Pieret:

    Here’s an odd aspect of Virginia law:

    § 18.2-361B:

    Any person who performs or causes to be performed cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus or anal intercourse upon or by his daughter or granddaughter, son or grandson, brother or sister, or father or mother is guilty of a Class 5 felony. However, if a parent or grandparent commits any such act with his child or grandchild and such child or grandchild is at least 13 but less than 18 years of age at the time of the offense, such parent or grandparent is guilty of a Class 3 felony.

    A Class 5 felony provides for a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 10 years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.

    A Class 3 felony provides for a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than 20 years and a fine of not more than $100,000.

    I guess the lesson in Virginia is that, if you are going to diddle your kids or grandkids, get ‘em early!

  24. Gregory in Seattle:

    @robertbaden #10 – The argument goes much farther back to the Manichaeans (there is evidence that the Cathars, more than a thousand years later, represented a remnant of this religion.)

    The Manichaeans were gnostics, who held that the material world was the work of an evil demiurge (Satan, aka the god of the Old Testament.) Every birth represented another spark of Divine Light captured and brought into the wickedness of the world. The world could be enjoyed until one was ready to attain release, usually in advanced age, but there was a prohibition against procreation. The result was that non-procreative sex was… not necessarily common, but certainly encouraged.

    The writings of Augustine of Hippo, who had been raised Manichaean and wrote several pieces in the early to mid 5th century condemning them, serves as the theological basis for prohibiting any kind of sex act that might not lead to having children.

  25. Tsu Dho Nimh:

    @23 … and it looks like great-grandparents are in the clear.

    As are aunts and uncles whether related by blood or marriage.

  26. cjcolucci:

    When I last looked, decades ago, most states either referred to the “crime against nature” or, as in New York, listed body parts — generally mouth, penis, anus, and vulva — and said you can’t put an X into a Y. I was surprised to see that Va. uses the actual names of the sexual practices they wish to ban.
    The “Don’t put X into Y” style statutes have their problems. I did a lengthy analysis of New York’s (which has never actually been taken off the books, but, for consensual sodomy applies only to people not married to each other) and found that, when you put together all the possible combinations, it barred only the best-known forms of “unusual” sex. It obviously intended to legalize mouth-mouth and penis-vulva, and to ban mouth-penis, mouth-vulva, and penis-anus, but if you parse it out, you’ll see the legislature missed a few practices that have sexual meaning. (I leave it to you to figure out.) I never did find out whether the sorts of people who would write such statutes simply didn’t know such practices existed, or whether, instead, the draftsman was kinky in his own way and had highly specific tastes.

  27. tubi:

    What legislation are people talking about voting for or against? All it says is that there is an existing statute which Lawrence rendered unconstitutional. Cooch is asking the 4th circuit to revisit that decision and, I guess, override the SC?

    Am I missing something?

  28. Michael Heath:

    The campaign of Virginia state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli won’t say if he’s committed any crimes against nature.

    All he’d have to do is have a staffer peruse the responses George W. Bush and Barack Obama used/use regarding their prosecution of the drug laws against users of drugs they used with youthful impunity. My guess is neither were asked such a question given our gutless media (at least those with access).

    Is Ken Cuccinelli a hypocrite? Only if he got lucky.

  29. slc1:

    Re Michael Heath @ #28

    The cowardly lamestream media was also reluctant to ask George H. W. Bush about his relationship with Jennifer Fitzgerald. Or entertainer Jane Morgan for that matter. They showed rather less cowardice about asking Bill Clinton about his various affairs.

  30. Ben P:

    When I last looked, decades ago, most states either referred to the “crime against nature” or, as in New York, listed body parts — generally mouth, penis, anus, and vulva — and said you can’t put an X into a Y. I was surprised to see that Va. uses the actual names of the sexual practices they wish to ban.

    In a lot of syllabuses this is the first week of Criminal Law in law school. They teach the void for vagueness doctrine and statutory interpretation using sodomy statutes.

    In a lot of places there was an evolution of statutes. You go back 150 years or more, some states had rather preposterous statutes which made it a crime to commit “the act which cannot be named.” (referring of course to homosexual sodomy).

    THe supreme court eventually found that these statutes were so vague it couldn’t be reasonably ascertained what was prohibited, and some states moved to statutes that prohibited “crimes against nature,” without defining what those were. A couple of those got struck down.

    Finally legislators got over their prudishness at describing body parts and described the statutes in the “it is a crime to put X into Y,” type language.

  31. d.c.wilson:

    slc1@29:

    That’s because asking a republican the same questions they’d ask a democrat would show that they had a liberal bias.

  32. Dr X:

    “crimes against nature”

    I laugh every time I see that phrase. I immediately picture medieval peasants shrieking in terror when an solar eclipse occurs.

  33. unalienablebytes:

    Cuccinelli IS a crime against nature.

  34. shouldbeworking:

    Isn’t “crimes against nature” just another way of saying “gawd said it’s evil, it says so in the bible somewhere”? Masturbation should be banned too. The Party of Small Government sure doesn’t like people having fun.

  35. donkensler:

    Ben P @ 30:

    “In a lot of places there was an evolution of statutes. You go back 150 years or more, some states had rather preposterous statutes which made it a crime to commit ‘the act which cannot be named.’”

    Well, just to prove there’s no such thing as evolution here in Michigan, I’m going to quote MCL 750.158 in its entirety:

    “Any person who shall commit the abominable and detestable crime against nature either with mankind or with any animal shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not more than 15 years, or if such person was at the time of the said offense a sexually delinquent person, may be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for an indeterminate term, the minimum of which shall be 1 day and the maximum of which shall be life.”

    Now IANAL, but I’ve always assumed this law would have been struck down as unconstitutionally vague even pre-Lawrence if it was ever appealed to SCOTUS, so I’m guessing it’s been a while since it was enforced (Michigan was always cited pre-Lawrence as one of the states that had a sodomy law on the books that hadn’t been declared unconstitutional to that point).

    I suppose our legislators here in MI remain a squeamish bunch.

  36. sailor1031:

    @abb3W: then the genius guys at VDof Aviation came up with “Virginia is for flying lovers” – presumably for those who do or don’t give a flying fuck!!

  37. dingojack:

    I always thought Virginia was ‘the hate state’. I mean Virginia is famously against Loving after all…
    :) Dingo

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