The Republican Party’s desire for less government generally remains true — unless it involves what’s going on below the belt. While the entire party cannot be spoken for, this is certainly the case for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who is fighting for the reinstatement of an anti-sodomy law.
Mother Jones announced on July 17 that Cuccinelli had launched a website that boldly declares, “Keep Virginia Kids Safe.” The website declares that this anti-sodomy law could not be applied to consenting adults (although this is a falsity). Opposition to Cuccinnelli's move is due perhaps to the belief that this anti-sodomy law is an anti-gay provision disguised as a measure to protect children. This fact, combined with Cuccinelli’s alignment with the social conservative wing of the Republican Party (which has made gay-bashing one of its main platforms in the past few years), is what has people up in arms about this law.
The claim that the law would protect kids from Virginia is based on a case in 2005 involving a man named William MacDonald, who was 47 at the time. The New York Times reported on the details of the case and explained, “From 2002 to 2004, Mr. MacDonald had oral and vaginal sex with two young women, one 16, and the other 17, prosecutors alleged. He was in his mid-40s.” Despite the age gap, MacDonald did not commit a felony because the age of consent in Virginia is 15 years old. The New York Times elaborated, “Any sort of sex with someone under that age is statutory rape, a felony. It can also be a crime, but only a misdemeanor, for an adult to have to have intercourse with someone 15 to 17, if it 'contributes to the delinquency of a minor.'”
No one is advocating for MacDonald’s behavior. He rightfully served his time. However, he was convicted of four violations of the sodomy law, and originally sentenced to 20 years, 17 of which were suspended. The question is not whether what MacDonald did was wrong, the question is should there be a more specific law to punish sex between adults and minors, because the case of Lawrence v. Texas has set the precedent that anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional. Cuccinnelli has argued that anti-sodomy laws could protect minors from sexual predators, because in Cuccinelli’s world sexual predators only want oral and anal sex.
The anti-sodomy law, MacDonald, and minors, are all sensitive, hot-button topics that Cuccinelli is using in his gubernatorial bid against Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Children are always a sensitive topic, and Cuccinelli is using this to his advantage. He has gotten national attention in his attempts to bring back the anti-sodomy laws, and during election time press is priceless.
With all this garnered attention Cuccinelli is presenting himself as the good old fashioned Republican standing against the sneaky, dirty Democrat. His opponent, McAuliffe, is much more progressive than Cuccinelli. The HuffingtonPost Gay Voices editor at large wrote, “On the one side is Democrat Terry McAulliffe, supporting marriage equality in a state with a horrendous record on gay rights but where recent polls show steady movement in the right direction, with 50% of Virginians now supporting gay marriage.” Cuccinelli has set himself up as the opposite, advocating for the anti-sodomy laws.
Cuccinelli’s anti-sodomy campaign has become what he is most known for, rather than his stance on the issues that matter. There are two simple motives behind Cuccinelli’s political move. The first is that he is genuinely anti-gay and is using this law to attack the LGBT community. While his website claims that the anti-sodomy law would not apply to consenting adults, the NY Daily News writes that the law actually states, “If any person carnally knows in any matter 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.” Cuccinelli underestimates his opponents, because the context of the law clearly indicates that it could be used even against consenting adults. This makes the laws clearly anti-gay.
The second motive for Cuccinelli’s campaign is that he is simply trying to get attention while he campaigns. Thus far it appears to be working, as he is neck and neck with McAuliffe. Cuccinelli needs to spend more time focusing on the economy and pertinent issues, rather than trying to fight a ruling made years ago. One really starts to wonder if Cuccinelli had a bad experience with cunnilingus, because it's hard to figure out what else might have prompted this vendetta.