On Monday, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia smacked down Virginia Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who had asked the full 15-judge panel to rehear his challenge to an earlier court ruling that overturned that state’s sodomy law.
The Washington Blade‘s Lou Chibbaro Jr. reports:
In an action that surprised some court observers, the order says none of the court’s judges requested a poll among themselves to determine which, if any of them, favored Cuccinelli’s request for an en banc rehearing of the sodomy case by the court’s 15 active judges and one senior judge.
Among the judges that chose not to approve a rehearing was Judge Albert Diaz, who wrote the dissent in the three-judge panel’s 2-1 ruling declaring Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature” statute unconstitutional. The statute classifies sodomy between consenting adults, gay or straight, as a crime.
“It’s a pretty resounding rejection,” said Claire Gastanaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, which filed a friend of the court brief urging the three-judge panel to overturn the state sodomy law. “There really wasn’t any interest in doing this at all by anybody.”
Cuccinelli’s last resort is an appeal to the United States Supreme Court; his office has not yet commented on whether he intends to petition the Court to hear the case. The Supreme Court overturned Texas’s sodomy law in 2003 in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas decision.
Meanwhile, legislators in Montana — including the state’s first openly gay lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Bryce Bennett — are pushing for a measure that would repeal that state’s antiquated (and unconstitutional) sodomy law. The House Judiciary Committee had voted to table the bill, but on Monday the full House of Representatives overrode that decision, voting 60-38 to take it out of committee and bring it before that full body for consideration. Twenty-one Republicans assisted the minority Democrats in voting to bring the bill to the floor.
But this means that 38 representatives — all Republicans, by the way — voted against the measure, essentially attempting to ensure gay sex remains a felony offense.
Watch badass state Rep. Amanda Curtis (D-Butte) describe the scene on the House floor and her feelings leading up to the vote: