Virginia Legislators Introduce New Anti-Sodomy Law

562832_336467456411546_1508062389_aVirginia state Sen. Thomas Garrett Jr. has introduced an anti-sodomy law to replace a prior law that was struck down in 2013 that targets sex with individuals below the age of 18. This new and improved morality law could criminalize an array of different forms of consensual relations, including oral sex. I recently wrote a column on the welcomed demise of morality codes in the United States.

Garrett’s law would criminalize oral or anal sex with someone under 18 years old is guilty of a felony, punishable by one to five years. That includes consensual sex between teenagers. Garrett insists that he is only trying to protect minors from adult sex predators but his law sweeps beyond such defendants.

The law rekindles the debate over criminalizing teenage sex where one party is 18 and the other is less than 18. Such unions are common and generally consensual.

Virginia currently has a criminal fornication law which appears facially invalid:

§ 18.2-344. Fornication.

Any person, not being married, who voluntarily shall have sexual intercourse with any other person, shall be guilty of fornication, punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor.

(Code 1950, §§ 18.1-188, 18.1-190; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.)

There is also a criminal adultery law on the books:

§ 18.2-365. Adultery defined; penalty.

Any person, being married, who voluntarily shall have sexual intercourse with any person not his or her spouse shall be guilty of adultery, punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor.

(Code 1950, §§18.1-187, 18.1-190; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.)

There is also an array of more specific crimes like french kissing a minor:

§ 18.2-370.6. Penetration of mouth of child with lascivious intent; penalty.

Any person 18 years of age or older who, with lascivious intent, kisses a child under the age of 13 on the mouth while knowingly and intentionally penetrating the mouth of such child with his tongue is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Virginia’s current code is a comprehensive criminalization of consensual acts. Clearly, minors present a different issue since they cannot legally consent. However, the danger is the criminalization of consensual sexual acts between teenagers.

Garrett was born in Georgia and earned his Bachelor and Law degrees from the University of Richmond. He served in the United States Army for six years and was Louisa County’s Commonwealth’s Attorney in 2007. He has run on his “law-and-order focus and conservative ideals to his work in the Virginia Senate, where he fights for the families of the 22nd District.”

31 thoughts on “Virginia Legislators Introduce New Anti-Sodomy Law”

  1. Obviously this is a legislative attempt to circumvent judicial decisions holding Virginia’s current “Crimes Against Nature” laws to be unconstitutional. The real problem seems to be drafting a law that protects minors from committing acts they can’t consent to with adults without going overboard and punishing consensual acts between teenagers. The fact that it is illegal for a 19 year old and 17 year old to have consensual sexual relations is a major problem and waste of judicial resources. These proposed changes making the consensual acts of two minors illegal is even worse. It has been my experience that some prosecutors would rather not waste their time and resources on these types of “crimes”; however, not every prosecutor chooses to exercise their discretion and when these laws lead to felonies and misdemeanors that will stay on someone’s record their entire life, then that’s a major problem. Unfortunately a lot of legislation brings unintended consequences when it is put into the code and real life application takes over. The better course would be to narrowly tailor the language to fit the actual purpose of the legislation of protecting juveniles which could be easily done.

  2. Looks to me like “morality” in the religious sense has made its way into the statues of Virginia. Jefferson and Madison are rolling over in their graves!

  3. Reblogged this on Sherry's Space and commented:
    I agree , but he should also add that any child at that age under shouldn’t allowed to get pregnant either. Beacause their are to many young teens getting pregnant and then they have to abort it and it is not right or fair to that baby either.

    1. shras789 writes:

      [Reblogged this on Sherry’s Space and commented:
      I agree , but he should also add that any child at that age under shouldn’t allowed to get pregnant either. Beacause their are to many young teens getting pregnant and then they have to abort it and it is not right ]

      Shras789: And what is your modus operandi for,”any child at that age under shouldn’t allowed to get pregnant “?

      Please share with us.

  4. I would also chuckle except for what follows.

    We have a society that glorifies gratuitous sex and is mute when it comes to consequence. You applaud the freedom given a group that feels invincible, but apply no thought to the youth who will live compromised lives as result of ignorance.

    According to the CDC, nearly 10 MILLION young adults are diagnosed with std each year. no small number. Personally, I am sorry for them.

    http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/sexualbehaviors/index.htm

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