Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s quest to uphold his state’s anti-sodomy law ended in failure Monday, after the Supreme Court rejected Cuccinelli’s plea to overturn a lower court ruling finding the law unconstitutional.
Virginia’s state legislature tried to amend the law following the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling finding anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional. As a state senator, Cuccinelli opposed the state’s efforts, having said previously that ”homosexual acts” as “intrinsically wrong” and that “in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that.” The law barred “crimes against nature,” which included oral sex between consenting adults of any sexual orientation. The law carried a penalty of between one and five years in prison for sexual acts that the National Center on Health Statistics estimates nine out of ten Americans between the age of 25 and 44 engage in.
Cuccinelli was seeking to use the law to prosecute William McDonald, a middle-aged man, for soliciting oral sex from two young women who were 16 and 17 at the time. Because both teenagers were above Virginia’s age of consent when the incident occurred, McDonald could only be convicted of a misdemeanor. Had Cuccinelli supported changes to the law so that it wouldn’t turn a majority of American adults into unprosecuted felons, it might have been able to use it to seek a harsher punishment for McDonald.
Still, getting shut down by the Supreme Court is the least of Cuccinelli’s current political problems. His bid to become Virginia’s governor has been hampered by Republicans shutting down the government, his association with current Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is under investigation over gifts received from a campaign donor, and by an ad campaign hammering Cuccinelli over his socially conservative views. According to recent polls, Cuccinelli now trails Democratic rival Terry McAuliffe, a man who once took rum shots on live television, by five points or more.
To this day, Cuccinelli has never stated whether he or any of his staff have committed “crimes against nature” under the now-defunct Virginia law.