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Looking at Nevada’s “infamous crimes against nature” statute

Equal rights for gays are inevitably regarded as “special” rights from some rebutting critics, despite the lack of logic. But logic has never been a strong point among anti-gay types, anyway. So when the ACLU of Nevada filed a complaint last week challenging an “infamous crimes against nature” statute, the irrational types predictably rolled out from under their crusty logs to chime in online with comments as outmoded as the statute itself.

What’s most bizarre about all of this is that a 17-year-old Nevada boy was actually prosecuted for his sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy last year under the “crimes against nature” statute, enacted in 1979, which targets only homosexual minors and is punishable with up to life in prison. The ACLU argues that the statute violates the constitutional right to Equal Protection.

Boyd School of Law professor Ian Bartrum, whose focus is in constitutional law, its theory and law and religion, says the rule is likely an oversight made when the statute was later amended and that the ACLU will likely be successful.

“The state has to show there’s a legitimate interest in making the distinction between homosexual and heterosexual sex,” Bartrum says, adding that a legislative change to the statute is more likely than the state actually defending it.

While we’ll applaud the change, it does mean we’ll miss out on the type of insanity that ensued back in 1993 when the Assembly Judiciary Committee discussed repealing SB 466—Nevada’s sodomy law. That debate left in its wake an unbelievable archive of meeting minutes and materials filled with the same level of hysteria and misinformation as the Salem Witch Trials.

Sun researcher Rebecca Clifford-Cruz contributed to this report.

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Kristen Peterson

Kristen Peterson joined the Las Vegas Sun in 1998 as a general assignment reporter. In 2003, she turned her focus ...

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