10 January 2014
- Senate Bill 14 defines 'crimes against nature' as knowing 'any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth'
- Consenting adults who perform these sex acts in private and aren't practicing prostitution are excepted from the felony
- The wording therefore makes it illegal for two consenting teens to have oral sex
- Senator Thomas Garrett is sponsoring the bill and says he is drafting an amendment to address complaints about the bill's 'unintended consequences'
A new bill being considered by Virginia State legislature would make oral sex between teenagers illegal.
The bill is being proposed by ultra-conservative Republican Senator Thomas Garrett, in an attempt to get a previously proposed 'crimes against nature' law passed.
This law, which made it a felony to carnally know 'any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth' was shut down by the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit because it violates the 14th Amendment, which guarantees the rights of due process and equal protection.
Senator Garrett hoped to get around the 14th Amendment this second time around by restricting the law to just minors.
In the new bill summary, Senator Garrett clarifies that these 'crimes against nature' are not illegal if commited between adults, are not in a public place and don't involve prostitution.
The phrasing of the new bill suggests that oral sex with and between minors would be a felony.
In an email to the Huffington Post, Senator Garrett defended his bill by saying its aim was not to prohibit oral sex between teens, but to protect them from child predators.
He said he was concerned that predators convitcted of 'crimes against nature' with children or teens 'may pursue appeal and quite possibly be released.'
If that's the case, legal experts say Senator Garrett should have drafted a law against predators instead of against certain sexual acts.
'If he wants to prosecute people who abuse children, why not write a law that would ban abuse of children,' UCLS law professor Eugene Volokh told HuffPo.
Working on it: Senator Garrett says this isn't the final version of the bill that he will propose to the legislature. Above, the Virginia State Capitol
The proposed bill is also causing controversy in the LGBT community by people who say it's discriminatory towards people who have non-genital sex.
Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia told Think Progress that her group would oppose the bill because 'it leaves in place discriminatory treatment and doesn't address the underlying problem that LGBT people are treated differently than folks that have other kinds of sex.'
But Senator Garrett promises that this isn't the final version of Senate Bill 14.
'Our office has been inundated with extremely unsavory telephone calls and emails,' Senator Garrett said in the email. 'For the record, I have heard the concerns and have started to draft an amendment to my bill that will deal with the unintended consequences of a bill that is nothing but well-intentioned.'