Huffpost Politics

Here's The Medieval-Sounding Sodomy Law That Helped Ken Cuccinelli Lose In Virginia

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Republican Ken Cuccinelli lost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial race Tuesday, thanks in part to Democratic opponents who successfully portrayed Cuccinelli as a medieval anti-women, anti-gay, conservative extremist.

A key element of that was Cuccinelli’s relentless fight to reinstate Virginia’s “crimes against nature” penalty. The anti-sodomy law Cuccinelli has been so devoted to reviving includes Class 6 felony punishments for any person that “carnally knows in any manner any brute animal, or carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth, or voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge…”

Read the full text below:

§ 18.2-361. Crimes against nature; penalty.

A. If any person carnally knows in any manner any brute animal, or carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth, or voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge, he or she shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony, except as provided in subsection B.

B. 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.

C. For the purposes of this section, parent includes step-parent, grandparent includes step-grandparent, child includes step-child and grandchild includes step-grandchild.

In Virginia, a swing state severely affected by October’s government shutdown, it's clear that voters were concerned about more than Cuccinelli's support for the arcane legislation. But ads that made uncomfortable references to it likely didn't help.

In the 2003 landmark case Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’ anti-sodomy law as unconstitutional, thereby decriminalizing sodomy and same-sex sexual activity nationally. Sparked by a case involving a 47-year-old man’s propositions of oral sex from a 17-year-old teenager, a three-judge panel for the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond this year overturned Virginia’s anti-sodomy law, or “crimes against nature” provision, in accordance with the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling.

Cuccinelli has been fighting to reinstate the law in Virginia ever since, appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court in June after the full appeals court denied his petition in April. In July, he launched a website,, that spins anti-sodomy provisions as a way to combat child predators.

Cuccinelli remained clear that he has an issue with “homosexual acts."

"They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that,” Cuccinelli told the Virginian-Pilot.

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BIGGEST LOSER Ken Cuccinelli Won't Bring Sodomy Laws Back To Virginia