It’s no secret that Virginia Attorney General and GOP Gubernatorial Nominee Ken Cuccinelli hates us. After all, this is the man who celebrates sodomy laws as appropriate in “a natural-law based country.” Now it turns out that Cuccinelli’s decision to keep the state’s unconstitutional sodomy law has put at risk the convictions of sexual predators who were sentenced to jail under the outdated law.
Virginia had a long-standing Crimes Against Nature law, which was used as a cudgel against the state’s LGBT citizens. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws as unconstitutional in 2003, Virginia should have modified the law to eliminate the offending sections. Instead, religious right leaders mounted a campaign to keep the law intact, an approach that Cuccinelli embraced. Despite some attempts in the legislature to deal with the problem, the law remained unchanged.
But not unused. Prosecutors have relied upon other sections of the law to convict sexual predators. The law is also used to underpin other statutes, including those forbidding online solicitation of minors. So when the state Supreme Court overturned the law earlier this year, as many as 90 sex offenders stood to go de-registered because they were convicted under an unconstitutional law.
Cuccinelli has tried to make hay of this in his campaign, saying the ruling “puts tools prosecutors need to protect children in jeopardy.” But, thanks to an in-depth look at the issue by ThinkProgress, it’s clear that it was Cuccinelli’s intransigence that caused the problem. If he had been willing to amend the law, the sex offenders’ convictions would still stand.
But amending the law to recognize that consensual same-sex acts are legal was more than Cuccinelli could apparently bear. Virginia could be paying a steep price for that warped — and unconstitutional — principle.