The Republicans of Virginia physically cannot stop thinking about what their constituents do with their genitals. You'd think that, after Ken Cuccinelli and his batshit insane "outlaw oral and anal sex" platform lost the governor's race, conservatives would have realized that any enemy of BJs, etc. is an enemy of freedom. But, sigh, no — Virginia state legislator Thomas Garrett — a self-described "Cuccinelli conservative" — has just proposed yet another horrid bill. Just how bad is it? Well, um, pretty patently horrible: Garrett's Senate Bill 14 would, among other things, make it a felony for two 15-to-17-year-olds to engage in oral or anal sex. Seriously, get a fucking grip, Virginia.
According to Think Progress, Senate Bill 14 would "amend and reenact" that awful so-called "Crimes Against Nature" statute that Cuccinelli was such a fan of. The bill uses the old statue's rhetoric, once again making consensual sodomy a felony — except, this time, the law will no longer apply against "consenting adults who are not in a public place and who are not committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, aiding, or abetting any act in furtherance of prostitution." Okay, so anal and oral sex would remain legal, in private, as long as you're not underage or paying anyone for it. Hm.
Garrett insists that the bill is meant to protect children, but that's not what it does at all — by criminalizing all "sodomy" under the age of 18, Garrett actually puts teens at risk. This is because the age of consent in Virginia is 15, and it's a misdemeanor (not a felony) for an adult to have sex with someone aged 15-18. Thus, by declaring all oral and anal sex under the age of 18 a felony, this bill would 1) make it illegal for two consenting teenagers to engage in oral or anal sex, and 2) make it more illegal for an adult and a teenager to engage in oral or anal sex than vaginal sex.
That's really, really bad for a whole slew of reasons. Firstly, as Eurgene Volokh points out on his blog, "if two 17-year-olds are choosing whether to have oral sex or genital sex, the law would push them towards the form of sex that is more likely to transmit disease, and more likely to cause unwanted pregnancy." There's absolutely no logical or moral justification for this. Even worse, the law is blatantly homophobic. Because gay couples don't participate in vaginal intercourse, to criminalize oral or anal sex under the age of 18 is to forbid gay teens from having sex at all. And, furthermore, to engage in "sodomy" in public is still a felony, whereas having public vaginal sex remains a misdemeanor, as Josh Israel points out at Think Progress. Were this bill to get signed into law, having sex in public as a straight couple — as long as you stick to trusty P-in-V! — would be automatically less criminal than having public sex while gay.
Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, told the Huffington Post that her organization would oppose the bill "unequivocally, because it leaves in place discriminatory treatment and doesn't address the underlying problem that LGBT people are treated differently than folks that have other kinds of sex." University of Florida law professor Darren Hutchinson agrees: "Virginia cannot make distinctions among LGBT teens and heterosexual teens with respect to the criminal law. Unless all forms of teen sexuality are illegal in Virginia, this bill would violate Equal Protection."
In an email to the Huffington Post, Garrett said that the point of the bill was to bring anti-sodomy law into compliance with the Constitution (I DO NOT THINK THAT'S POSSIBLE) while "still protecting Virginia children from child predators." This defense is complete and utter bullshit. The best way to protect children from predators with legislation... is to write a bill that expressly protects all children, gay or straight, from predators. A bill that regulates peoples' sexual behavior and designates all forms of gay sex as automatically more criminal than some forms of straight sex doesn't protect anything, save for the antiquated and bigoted beliefs of Garrett and his peers.
Image via AP.