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Frank Kameny: 'Sodomy Solicitations Are Needed!'

Pioneer Activist Targets Biased Virginia Officials

Judges Uphold Felony Charges in Park Entrapments

By Jack Nichols

Roanake, VirginiaŚDr. Franklin Kameny, a pioneer of the gay and lesbian civil rights movement, is up in arms about numerous enticement/entrapment arrests in this southwestern Virginian town.

The entrapments have been the work of plainclothes police who approach men they suspect to be gay and thereafter entice them into inviting sex.
kamenynew.jpg - 5.78 K Dr. Franklin Kameny

Virginia, which has long boasted that it is a state 'for lovers', not only considers the act of oral or anal sex (sodomy) a felony, but holds that a person inviting such acts (even though no sexual act occurs) is also 'guilty' of a felony.

Roanoke's legal establishment is currently prosecuting 18 men for felonies for having solicited sex with the plainclothes officers who enticed them.

Kameny's methods for dealing with these entrapments evolved out of his long-ago activist strategies utilized effectively in the nation's capital.

"In 1972," Kameny told GayToday, "I sent written, signed letters to our three top law enforcement authorities: The Chief of Police, the Corporation Counsel, and the United States Attorney, soliciting each of them for sodomy.

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:
Franklin Kameny: Solicit Sodomy Now

Virginia: Franklin Kameny's Sodomy Showdown Heats Up

Interview: Dr. Franklin Kameny

Related Sites:
ACLU: Guide to Sodomy Laws

GayToday does not endorse related sites.

"I pointed out that if they prosecuted me, this would lead to a test case challenge to the sodomy law (this was pre-Hardwick); if they did not prosecute then they would be setting up an Equal Protection precedent, since if, with impunity and without arrest, I could solicit our three top law enforcement officials, then anyone could solicit anyone, and defense attorneys would be informed.

"In fact," said Kameny, "they did not prosecute, such police entrapments ceased shortly thereafter, and the District of Columbia has had no such problems since."

Kameny now urges that similar tactics be adopted in other jurisdictions, particularly in Roanoke.

Activist strategies he'd like to see used, he says, could include groups of people marching into police stations, with television cameras and/or reporters following (if that can be arranged) and their soliciting of "every police officer in sight,"

Judges and prosecutors, recommends Kameny, could be solicited in open court by defendants or spectators which, he points out, "would raise issues of refusal of judges and disqualification of prosecutors because of conflict of interest."

The father of gay activist militancy believes Roanoke's eighteen defendants who are currently facing trials for such verbal solicitations are in need of support from persons living elsewhere.

"To my understanding," he explains, "there is question as to where the sodomy itself was to occur; at least some of the defendants claim that it was not specified, and others specifically claim that it was to occur in their private homes."

"The judges handling the cases have thus far simply upheld the Virginia sodomy law, on the basis of the Supreme Court's Hardwick decision (1986), and have consigned the 18 defendants to felony prosecutions on the basis solely of verbal solicitations for oral sodomy."

Kameny himself has responded by mailing signed letters to the two Roanoke-area judges involved, to the Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney prosecuting the cases, and to the Roanoke Chief of Police, soliciting them all to participate with him in the act of sodomy.

His solicitations read:

"I hereby solicit, urge, entreat, and invite each of you individually to engage with me in an act or acts of sodomy of your choice and as defined by Section 18.2-361 of the Virginia Code, in some indisputably private place in the state of Virginia, at a time of our mutual convenience."

Kameny points out that no distinction is made in Virginia law between solicitations for sodomy effected in public places and communicated by word of mouth, and such solicitations effected in the privacy of official offices communicated by mail.

The 73-year-old gay activist (who will celebrate his 74th birthday May 21) is urging "as many people as possible" to send written, signed letters (i.e. snail mail) to four Roanoke officials soliciting them for sodomy.

Obviously, he says, " there is nothing particularly sacred about my particular framing of the solicitation; people may write their letters as they choose; it can be limited to oral sodomy if they wish."

"It is important to cite the statute number," he says, to sign the letter and to include a return address."

The addresses of the four Roanoke officials are:

The Honorable Richard Pattisall
Roanoke Circuit Judge
Roanoke City Courthouse
315 Church Avenue, S.W.
PO Box 211
Roanoke, Virginia 24002

The Honorable Robert P. Doherty
Roanoke Circuit Judge
Roanoke City Courthouse
315 Church Avenue . S.W.
P:o Box 211
Roanoke, Virginia 24002

Ms. Alice Ekirch
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney
315 Church Avenue, S. W.
Roanoke, Virginia 24016

Chief Atlas "Joe" Gaskins
Roanoke Police Department
309 Third Street, S. W.
Roanoke, Virginia 24011

The Roanoke Times has been following the 18 local solicitation cases, and plans an article on Kameny's solicitations and the reactions, if any, of the four officials.

"They have been told that this Internet appeal is going out for others, the country over, similarly to solicit," Kameny explained.

Swamping the Roanoke officials, he believes, with sodomy solicitations "can be a fun thing, which might make an impact by both forcing the issue and ridiculing it.

"It is to be hoped that this can be escalated into an overturn of Virginia's antiquated anti-sodomy law, which makes habitual, repetitive, recidivist felons of almost the entire adult population of Virginia."

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