Sodomy; crimes against nature, clarifies provisions of clause, penalty. (SB14)

Introduced By

Del. Tom Garrett (R-Louisa)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Crimes against nature. Clarifies that engaging in consensual sodomy is not a crime if all persons participating are adults, are not in a public place, and are not committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, aiding, or abetting any act in furtherance of prostitution. The bill states that an emergency exists and it is in force from its passage. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


12/04/2013Prefiled and ordered printed with emergency clause; offered 01/08/14 14100407D
12/04/2013Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
12/06/2013Impact statement from VCSC (SB14)
01/15/2014Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
01/15/2014Committee substitute printed 14104029D-S1
01/15/2014Rereferred to Finance
01/17/2014Impact statement from VCSC (SB14S1)
02/04/2014Reported from Finance (17-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/05/2014Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N)
02/06/2014Read second time
02/06/2014Reading of substitute waived
02/06/2014Committee substitute agreed to 14104029D-S1
02/06/2014Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute SB14S1
02/07/2014Read third time and passed Senate (40-Y 0-N)
02/12/2014Placed on Calendar
02/12/2014Read first time
02/12/2014Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/14/2014Impact statement from DPB (SB14S1)
02/18/2014Assigned Courts sub: Criminal Law
02/28/2014Assigned App. sub: Public Safety
02/28/2014Subcommittee recommends reporting (11-Y 0-N)
02/28/2014Subcommittee recommends referring to Committee on Appropriations
02/28/2014Reported from Courts of Justice (19-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/28/2014Referred to Committee on Appropriations
03/03/2014Assigned App. sub: Public Safety
03/03/2014Subcommittee recommends reporting (6-Y 0-N)
03/03/2014Reported from Appropriations (22-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/05/2014Read second time
03/06/2014Read third time
03/06/2014Passed House BLOCK VOTE (100-Y 0-N)
03/06/2014VOTE: BLOCK VOTE PASSAGE (100-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/07/2014Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB14ER)
03/07/2014Signed by Speaker
03/10/2014Signed by President
03/11/2014Impact statement from DPB (SB14ER)
03/31/2014Impact statement from VCSC (SB14ER)
04/07/2014Governor's recommendation received by Senate
04/07/2014Governor's substitute printed 14105775D-S2
04/15/2014Impact statement from VCSC (SB14S2)
04/22/2014Placed on Calendar
04/23/2014Senate concurred in Governor's recommendation (38-Y 0-N)
04/23/2014House concurred in Governor's recommendation (94-Y 0-N)
04/23/2014G Governor's recommendation adopted
04/23/2014Reenrolled bill text (SB14ER2)
04/23/2014Signed by President as reenrolled
04/23/2014Signed by Speaker as reenrolled
04/23/2014Enacted, Chapter 794 (effective 4/23/14)
04/23/2014G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0794)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 3 clips in all, totaling 6 minutes.


Waldo Jaquith writes:

The Supreme Court of Virginia has struck down this aspect of § 18.2-361—of course we must update the law to reflect reality. This law ought to pass unanimously, because to do otherwise would be to keep a law on the books that is not, in fact, the law. I doubt it'll make it out of committee.

ACLU-VA LGBT Rights, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia supports repeal of Virginia's unconstitutional "crimes against nature" law that criminalizes oral and anal sex even in private between two consenting adults. This proposal to amend the law to make it constitutional fails to eliminate discrimination in the law that continues to make oral and anal sex a felony in many cases while intercourse in the same circumstances is a misdemeanor.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

As Josh Israel notes on Think Progress,, this bill doesn't entirely repeal the crimes against nature law. Which is true, it doesn't, but it still constitutes an improvement, and as such I still favor it.

Rick Sincere writes:

This bill would have the effect of making it a felony for two persons under the age of 18 to engage in oral sex, and perhaps requiring them to be put on a sex-offender registry for life. People over the age of 18 engaging in the same behavior would not be subject to any penalties.

It would be better to repeal 18.2-361 than to try to "fix" it and set in motion unintended consequences.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Whoa, hold up—the state of this law is much different than I thought. The opposite of the thing that I thought was true is, in fact, true.

The law that this amends—§ 18.2-361—is a sort of a ghost law. It's on the books, despite having been struck down by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (and upheld by the Supreme Court, in that they refused the take the case when attorney general Ken Cuccinelli appealed it). This law is not really a law.

What looks like Garrett making the law less bad, as both Rick and Claire have said, is making it much worse, because it's going from functionally not existing to existing again. He's trying to make it legal within the confines of the court ruling—that's the idea behind narrowing its application.

I think I'm pretty comfortable with the Code of Virginia, and I'm pretty knowledgable about the legislative process. Getting tripped up by this is a good reminder of how very confusing that this process must be to citizens who lack that experience and knowledge!

Mary Devoy writes:

This ridiculous bill must be stopped!

Creating a new criminal felony for two 16 year olds, two 17 year olds or a 16 and a 17 year old who engage in consensual (no force, threat or intimidation) oral sex is idiotic!

It’s bad enough Virginia charges a 17 year old who has consensual genital sex with a 15 or 16 year old with a misdemeanor when there is no force, threat or intimidation, but a felony for oral sex?

So much for those people who continue to claim the ago of consent is Virginia is 15 years old. If the Virginia Age of Consent (the age in which all sex is consensual with anyone at and above that age) was actually 15 years old then these acts would not be crimes.

It’s like we’re going backwards with this puritanical and ideological law.

I have two additional concerns that have NOT been addressed in the recent, and articles.

1.With no age gap allowance in this statute not only would any minors become felons for oral sex but so would the 18, 19 and 20 year old boyfriends and girlfriends.

A 20 year old dating a 17 year old or an 18 year old dating a 16 year old, these are age-appropriate relationships not creepy adults taking advantage of minors but they would become felony crimes if a one-size-fits-all law is adopted.

A 3 or 4 year age gap allowance needs to be added to this statute if it moves forward to become law.

2.Anyone who is convicted under this new Crimes Against Nature statute would then become a Registered Sex Offender. Even though no force, threat or intimidation was involved.

Not only would they become an RSO but they’d be classified as Violent (not Non-Violent) which would mean they would be “lifers” in Virginia with no opportunity to ever petition the courts to be removed.

As an RSO:
•If they are still in high school they could be expelled, before receiving their degree
•They would be prohibited from attending school functions and events with friends
•They would most likely be denied acceptance to any Virginia College or University
•They would find securing any work extremely difficult as no employer wants to have their company name listed on the Virginia Registry
•They would find leasing an apartment or home extremely challenging as no landlord wants the other neighbors complaining about leasing to an RSO
•They’d be prohibited from loitering near schools and daycares, plus parks that share a border with a school whether they intended to or not
•They would be required to register every 90 days, for the rest of their life
•Anytime their residence, employment, vehicle, phone number or email address changed they would be required to notify the authorities within the allotted timeframe or face a new felony charge

Plus their ability to worship at a church, temple or synagogue that has a daycare operating on the premises could be a serous issue as no Virginia lawmaker has answered this question I’ve posed for 6 years.

And these are just the legal ramifications because the Commonwealth made them an RSO even though they are no threat to children or society.

Who would want to date them? Marry them? Have kids with them? No one!

Who wants them in their book club, on their soft-ball team, in their bible study group? No one!

All because they had consensual oral sex, instead of consensual genital sex with their significant other!

I don’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican.

I don’t care if you’re heterosexual or homosexual.

I don’t care if you are single or married.

I don’t care if you’re 16 years old or 96 years old.

I don’t care if you prefer missionary position or something else.

If the sex is consensual and age appropriate (especially in a state that allows two 15 year olds to legally have genital sex) then no one should face a felony and the lifetime stigma and burden of being a Violent Sex Offender.

I beg each and every one of you to immediately Email or call your Virginia Delegate and Senator.

Ask them to vote “NO” on SB14.

Tell the Virginia Legislators that if Virginia needs another law to prosecute people who sexually, orally or anally abuse children then write a law that specifically bans those abuses of children instead of arbitrarily sweeping up consenting minors, consenting teenagers/young adults and all homosexuals in an attempt to condemn those who aren’t “missionary position” purest.

SugarMags writes:

This bill is on Jezebel today. Way to go, Virginia.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Just a few days ago I did an interview with a newspaper about this year's legislative session, in which I said that we still haven't seen the annual bill that's going to make Virginia a national laughingstock, and that I was optimistic that no such bill would be filed.

So, I definitely got that one wrong.

ACLU-VA writes:

Mary Devoy is right. Please be sure that your Senator knows that you oppose this bill.

One thing not made clear in the comments is that the main reason why this bill is being introduced is to restore the ability of prosecutors to prosecute a person (regardless of age) who asks a 15, 16 or 17 year old to have oral sex for the felony of criminal solicitation. If it is a felony for a 15, 16 or 17 year old to engage in oral or anal sex voluntarily, as it would be if SB 14 were passed as introduced, then it is an independent felony for anyone to ask them to do so, whether such sex ever takes place at all. If the asker is 18 or over, asking for oral sex would be a class 5 felony. If the asker is under 18, the crime is a class 6 felony.

It is not a crime (much less a felony) for a 15, 16 or 17 year old (or any minor for that matter) to voluntarily have intercourse with anyone, so there would be no ability to prosecute for criminal solicitation any person 18 or over who asks for intercourse rather than oral or anal sex. It is a misdemeanor for a person 18 or older to have voluntary sex with a 15, 16 of 17 year old person, but it is not a crime for the minor to participate (as it would be if they voluntarily participated in oral or anal sex under SB 14 as introduced.

Here's a link to a description of what are colloquially known as our "statutory rape" or minor's consent laws.

Tell the legislature that the law should not treat oral and anal sex differently from intercourse and that no minor should be a felon for voluntarily engaging in oral or anal sex. Nor should it be a felony for one someone 18 to ask someone 17 for oral or anal sex, particularly if it is not a crime, much less a felony, to ask for intercourse.

Tom Garrett writes:

Maybe you guys misunderstood the bill. Just saying that based on the fact that it passed the committee 15-0 on a bipartisan vote, and passed the Senate 40-0. If you get your news from the HuffPo, there is a chance that you aren't getting news at all.

Mary Devoy writes:



The original bill (December 24) was a complete mess with so many unintended consequences it was shocking.

All the comments left here during the month of January were spot on as were the numerous media articles on the bill.

A January 15th amendment to the bill fixed it so that it COULD pass through committee and the chamber.

Instead of calling Virginias misinformed and ignorant if the read HuffPost in a February 26 comment when they are in fact paying attention to what is going on during session how about admitting the original bill had serious issues, maybe thanking them for participating in the process to get the bill to an acceptable point so that it didn't just die in committee but did pass through the first chamber.

Citizens who participate in the Legislative process, who read the content of the bills and who consider how the proposal would be applied in real life are citizens who should be embraced by elected officials not belittled.

Mary Devoy writes:

Virginia Legislature Unanimously Repeals Unconstitutional Oral Sex Ban
By Josh Isreal March 6, 2014

“In response, Sen. Thomas A. Garrett (R) filed a bill in December that would have eliminated the ban on adult consensual sodomy, but would have made oral sex between 17-year-olds a felony, even if they were legally married. After ThinkProgress reported on this possibly unintended consequence, Garrett and the Senate Courts of Justice Committee agreed on a substitute version that generally treats all sex equally.”