Republican candidate wants to revise laws, ban oral sex
Republican gubernatorial candidate, Virginia Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, center, answers questions from the media after the Virginia Bar Association convention debate at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Va. Saturday, July 20, 2013. (AP / Steve Helber)
Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, July 23, 2013 5:57PM EDT
WASHINGTON -- The gubernatorial race in Virginia is raising eyebrows across the nation thanks to the seemingly archaic views of the Republican vying for the job -- in particular, Ken Cuccinelli's desire to bring back laws that would outlaw oral and anal sex between any two people.
On the campaign trail, Cuccinelli, the state's attorney general, has been defending the state's so-called Crimes Against Nature laws, struck down earlier this year by a federal court. The laws banned what it called "sodomy" -- including anal and oral sex between any two consenting adults, married or unmarried, gay or straight.
Cuccinelli, who unveiled a website this week that called for the laws to be resurrected, insists they were meant to protect children from sexual predators. In a tight race for the governor's mansion against Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Cuccinelli also says his support of Crimes Against Nature isn't aimed at consenting adults.
The text of the statute, however, states that any person who "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, a Tea Party darling for his unflinching social conservatism, is being roundly mocked for his support of the law by everyone from his political foes in Virginia to the women of "The View."
Barbara Walters asked earlier this week: "What happened to the slogan 'Virgina Is For Lovers?"'
When Walters opined that Cuccinelli "equates oral sex with homosexuality," co-host Sherri Shepherd replied: "Then I'm as gay as a gay two-dollar bill."
Under withering attack from McAuliffe, Cuccinelli has gone on the offensive, accusing his foe of endangering children by failing to support the law.
In Virginia -- a state considered "purple" because it used to be reliably Republican but has elected a Democratic commander-in-chief in the past two presidential elections -- some are questioning the strategy of taking a far-right stance on social issues. Voters in the state's urban areas and northern reaches are largely Democratic, while those in the rural south vote Republican.
Even fellow Republicans aren't fans of Cuccinelli's.
"I have serious reservations about his ability to effectively and responsibly govern our state," Bill Bolling, the state's lieutenant governor, said recently.
Cuccinelli bested Bolling for the party nomination, prompting Bolling to launch a media tour lamenting the party's puzzling embrace of social conservative causes at a time when the state is becoming more moderate. He also established the The Virginia Mainstream Project aimed at recruiting moderate Republican candidates and to promote "responsible conservative policy solutions."
It's certainly not the first time Cuccinelli has campaigned on an extreme social conservative platform. While running for attorney general in 2009, Cuccinelli said he opposed all "homosexual acts."
"My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong," he said four years ago. "They're intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural-law-based country, it's appropriate to have policies that reflect that."
As a state senator, he also gave the thumb's up to anti-adultery laws.
In an interview the Virginian Style Weekly magazine in 2008, Cuccinelli defended laws criminalizing extramarital sex, saying that such restrictions "ought to stay on the books."
"Frankly it wouldn't hurt to enforce them more," he told the publication.
Cuccinelli is in hot water on another front -- an ethics scandal that has predominantly engulfed Gov. Bob McDonnell, a fellow Republican who's can't run for governor again due to term limits.
On Tuesday, a government watchdog group called on the Internal Revenue Service to probe whether McDonnell, his wife, Maureen, and Cuccinelli had failed to report and pay taxes on lavish gifts received from a wealthy executive.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, known as CREW, filed formal complaints with the IRS, alleging that luxury items and monetary gifts given to the McDonnells and Cuccinelli should have been taxed.
Cuccinelli's spokesman accused CREW of having a political bias.
"Let's get one thing straight, CREW is a Democrat front group; it's run by Democrats and for Democrats," said Richard Cullen.