In-Person Absentee Voting Tomorrow in NOVA

Saturday, October 1st, 2016 

The following locations will be open for In-Person Absentee Voting tomorrow Saturday, October 1st, 9:00am until 5:00pm.

For more information on Absentee Voting, visit www.elections.virginia.gov
 

  If you can't attend, donate!

If you can’t attend, donate to Virginia NOW.


Virginia NOW For Hillary,

Katie Regan
Virginia NOW
webeditor@vanow.org

Surveillance Under the USA/PATRIOT Act

Courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union


What is the “USA/Patriot” Act?

Just six weeks after the September 11 attacks, a panicked Congress passed the “USA/Patriot Act,” an overnight revision of the nation’s surveillance laws that vastly expanded the government’s authority to spy on its own citizens, while simultaneously reducing checks and balances on those powers like judicial oversight, public accountability, and the ability to challenge government searches in court.

Why Congress passed the Patriot Act

Most of the changes to surveillance law made by the Patriot Act were part of a longstanding law enforcement wish list that had been previously rejected by Congress, in some cases repeatedly.  Congress reversed course because it was bullied into it by the Bush Administration in the frightening weeks after the September 11 attack.

The Senate version of the Patriot Act, which closely resembled the legislation requested by Attorney General John Ashcroft, was sent straight to the floor with no discussion, debate, or hearings.  Many Senators complained that they had little chance to read it, much less analyze it, before having to vote.  In the House, hearings were held, and a carefully constructed compromise bill emerged from the Judiciary Committee. But then, with no debate or consultation with rank-and-file members, the House leadership threw out the compromise bill and replaced it with legislation that mirrored the Senate version.  Neither discussion nor amendments were permitted, and once again members barely had time to read the thick bill before they were forced to cast an up-or-down vote on it.  The Bush Administration implied that members who voted against it would be blamed for any further attacks – a powerful threat at a time when the nation was expecting a second attack to come any moment and when reports of new anthrax letters were appearing daily.

Congress and the Administration acted without any careful or systematic effort to determine whether weaknesses in our surveillance laws had contributed to the attacks, or whether the changes they were making would help prevent further attacks.  Indeed, many of the act’s provisions have nothing at all to do with terrorism.

The Patriot Act increases the government’s power to spy in four areas

The Patriot Act increases the governments surveillance powers in four areas:

  1. Records searches.  It expands the government’s ability to look at records on an individual’s activity being held by a third parties. (Section 215)
  2. Secret searches.  It expands the government’s ability to search private property without notice to the owner. (Section 213)
  3. Intelligence searches.  It expands a narrow exception to the Fourth Amendment that had been created for the collection of foreign intelligence information (Section 218).
  4. “Trap and trace” searches.  It expands another Fourth Amendment exception for spying that collects “addressing” information about the origin and destination of communications, as opposed to the content (Section 214).

1.  Expanded access to personal records held by third parties

One of the most significant provisions of the Patriot Act makes it far easier for the authorities to gain access to records of citizens’ activities being held by a third party.  At a time when computerization is leading to the creation of more and more such records, Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows the FBI to force anyone at all – including doctors, libraries, bookstores, universities, and Internet service providers – to turn over records on their clients or customers.

Unchecked power
The result is unchecked government power to rifle through individuals’ financial records, medical histories, Internet usage, bookstore purchases, library usage, travel patterns, or any other activity that leaves a record.  Making matters worse:

  • The government no longer has to show evidence that the subjects of search orders are an “agent of a foreign power,” a requirement that previously protected Americans against abuse of this authority.
  • The FBI does not even have to show a reasonable suspicion that the records are related to criminal activity, much less the requirement for “probable cause” that is listed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.  All the government needs to do is make the broad assertion that the request is related to an ongoing terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation.
  • Judicial oversight of these new powers is essentially non-existent.  The government must only certify to a judge – with no need for evidence or proof – that such a search meets the statute’s broad criteria, and the judge does not even have the authority to reject the application.
  • Surveillance orders can be based in part on a person’s First Amendment activities, such as the books they read, the Web sites they visit, or a letter to the editor they have written.
  • A person or organization forced to turn over records is prohibited from disclosing the search to anyone.  As a result of this gag order, the subjects of surveillance never even find out that their personal records have been examined by the government.  That undercuts an important check and balance on this power: the ability of individuals to challenge illegitimate searches. 
The law before the Patriot Act The law under the Patriot Act
When can the Patriot Act be used? To gather foreign intelligence or investigate international terrorism To gather foreign intelligence or protect against international terrorism
What can the FBI demand be turned over?  “records” “any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items)”
Who can they demand information about? Only people who the FBI has evidence are an “agent of a foreign power” Anyone
Who can they demand it from? Only common carriers, public accommodation facilities, physical storage facilities, or vehicle rental facilities Any entity (including bookstores and libraries)


Why the Patriot Act’s expansion of records searches is unconstitutional
Section 215 of the Patriot Act violates the Constitution in several ways.  It:

  • Violates the Fourth Amendment, which says the government cannot conduct a search without obtaining a warrant and showing probable cause to believe that the person has committed or will commit a crime.
  • Violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech by prohibiting the recipients of search orders from telling others about those orders, even where there is no real need for secrecy.
  • Violates the First Amendment by effectively authorizing the FBI to launch investigations of American citizens in part for exercising their freedom of speech.
  • Violates the Fourth Amendment by failing to provide notice – even after the fact – to persons whose privacy has been compromised.  Notice is also a key element of due process, which is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

2. More secret searches

For centuries, common law has required that the government can’t go into your property without telling you, and must therefore give you notice before it executes a search.   That “knock and announce” principle has long been recognized as a part of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

The Patriot Act, however, unconstitutionally amends the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to allow the government to conduct searches without notifying the subjects, at least until long after the search has been executed.  This means that the government can enter a house, apartment or office with a search warrant when the occupants are away, search through their property, take photographs, and in some cases even seize property – and not tell them until later.

Notice is a crucial check on the government’s power because it forces the authorities to operate in the open, and allows the subject of searches to protect their Fourth Amendment rights.  For example, it allows them to point out irregularities in a warrant, such as the fact that the police are at the wrong address, or that the scope of the warrant is being exceeded (for example, by rifling through dresser drawers in a search for a stolen car).  Search warrants often contain limits on what may be searched, but when the searching officers have complete and unsupervised discretion over a search, a property owner cannot defend his or her rights.

Finally, this new “sneak and peek” power can be applied as part of normal criminal investigations; it has nothing to do with fighting terrorism or collecting foreign intelligence.

3. Expansion of the intelligence exception in wiretap law

Under the Patriot Act, the FBI can secretly conduct a physical search or wiretap on American citizens to obtain evidence of crime without proving probable cause, as the Fourth Amendment explicitly requires.

A 1978 law called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) created an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement for probable cause when the purpose of a wiretap or search was to gather foreign intelligence.  The rationale was that since the search was not conducted for the purpose of gathering evidence to put someone on trial, the standards could be loosened.  In a stark demonstration of why it can be dangerous to create exceptions to fundamental rights, however, the Patriot Act expanded this once-narrow exception to cover wiretaps and searches that DO collect evidence for regular domestic criminal cases.  FISA previously allowed searches only if the primary purpose was to gather foreign intelligence.  But the Patriot Act changes the law to allow searches when “a significant purpose” is intelligence.  That lets the government circumvent the Constitution’s probable cause requirement even when its main goal is ordinary law enforcement.

The eagerness of many in law enforcement to dispense with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment was revealed in August 2002 by the secret court that oversees domestic intelligence spying (the “FISA Court”).  Making public one of its opinions for the first time in history, the court revealed that it had rejected an attempt by the Bush Administration to allow criminal prosecutors to use intelligence warrants to evade the Fourth Amendment entirely.  The court also noted that agents applying for warrants had regularly filed false and misleading information.  That opinion is now on appeal. [link to FISA page]

4. Expansion of the “pen register” exception in wiretap law

Another exception to the normal requirement for probable cause in wiretap law is also expanded by the Patriot Act.  Years ago, when the law governing telephone wiretaps was written, a distinction was created between two types of surveillance.  The first allows surveillance of the content or meaning of a communication, and the second only allows monitoring of the transactional or addressing information attached to a communication. It is like the difference between reading the address printed on the outside of a letter, and reading the letter inside, or listening to a phone conversation and merely recording the phone numbers dialed and received.

Wiretaps limited to transactional or addressing information are known as “Pen register/trap and trace” searches (for the devices that were used on telephones to collect telephone numbers).  The requirements for getting a PR/TT warrant are essentially non-existent:  the FBI need not show probable cause or even reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.  It must only certify to a judge – without having to prove it – that such a warrant would be “relevant” to an ongoing criminal investigation. And the judge does not even have the authority to reject the application.

The Patriot Act broadens the pen register exception in two ways:

“Nationwide” pen register warrants
Under the Patriot Act PR/TT orders issued by a judge are no longer valid only in that judge’s jurisdiction, but can be made valid anywhere in the United States.  This “nationwide service” further marginalizes the role of the judiciary, because a judge cannot meaningfully monitor the extent to which his or her order is being used.  In addition, this provision authorizes the equivalent of a blank warrant: the court issues the order, and the law enforcement agent fills in the places to be searched. That is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment’s explicit requirement that warrants be written “particularly describing the place to be searched.”

Pen register searches applied to the Internet
The Patriot Act applies the distinction between transactional and content-oriented wiretaps to the Internet. The problem is that it takes the weak standards for access to transactional data and applies them to communications that are far more than addresses.  On an e-mail message, for example, law enforcement has interpreted the “header” of a message to be transactional information accessible with a PR/TT warrant.  But in addition to routing information, e-mail headers include the subject line, which is part of the substance of a communication – on a letter, for example, it would clearly be inside the envelope.

The government also argues that the transactional data for Web surfing is a list of the URLs or Web site addresses that a person visits.  For example, it might record the fact that they visited “www.aclu.org” at 1:15 in the afternoon, and then skipped over to “www.fbi.gov” at 1:30.  This claim that URLs are just addressing data breaks down in two different ways:

  • Web addresses are rich and revealing content.  The URLs or “addresses” of the Web pages we read are not really addresses, they are the titles of documents that we download from the Internet.  When we “visit” a Web page what we are really doing is downloading that page from the Internet onto our computer, where it is displayed.  Therefore, the list of URLs that we visit during a Web session is really a list of the documents we have downloaded – no different from a list of electronic books we might have purchased online.  That is much richer information than a simple list of the people we have communicated with; it is intimate information that reveals who we are and what we are thinking about – much more like the content of a phone call than the number dialed.  After all, it is often said that reading is a “conversation” with the author.
  • Web addresses contain communications sent by a surfer.  URLs themselves often have content embedded within them.  A search on the Google search engine, for example, creates a page with a custom-generated URL that contains material that is clearly private content, such as:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=sexual+orientation

Similarly, if I fill out an online form – to purchase goods or register my preferences, for example – those products and preferences will often be identified in the resulting URL.

The erosion of accountability

Attempts to find out how the new surveillance powers created by the Patriot Act were implemented during their first year were in vain.  In June 2002 the House Judiciary Committee demanded that the Department of Justice answer questions about how it was using its new authority.  The Bush/Ashcroft Justice Department essentially refused to describe how it was implementing the law; it left numerous substantial questions unanswered, and classified others without justification.  In short, not only has the Bush Administration undermined judicial oversight of government spying on citizens by pushing the Patriot Act into law, but it is also undermining another crucial check and balance on surveillance powers: accountability to Congress and the public. [cite to FOIA page]

Non-surveillance provisions

Although this fact sheet focuses on the direct surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act, citizens should be aware that the act also contains a number of other provisions.  The Act:

  • Puts CIA back in business of spying on Americans. The Patriot Act gives the Director of Central Intelligence the power to identify domestic intelligence requirements.  That opens the door to the same abuses that took place in the 1970s and before, when the CIA engaged in widespread spying on protest groups and other Americans.
  • Creates a new crime of “domestic terrorism.” The Patriot Act transforms protesters into terrorists if they engage in conduct that “involves acts dangerous to human life” to “influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.”  How long will it be before an ambitious or politically motivated prosecutor uses the statute to charge members of controversial activist groups like Operation Rescue or Greenpeace with terrorism?  Under the Patriot Act, providing lodging or assistance to such “terrorists” exposes a person to surveillance or prosecution.  Furthermore, the law gives the attorney general and the secretary of state the power to detain or deport any non-citizen who belongs to or donates money to one of these broadly defined “domestic terrorist” groups.
  • Allows for the indefinite detention of non-citizens.  The Patriot Act gives the attorney general unprecedented new power to determine the fate of immigrants.  The attorney general can order detention based on a certification that he or she has “reasonable grounds to believe” a non-citizen endangers national security.  Worse, if the foreigner does not have a country that will accept them, they can be detained indefinitely without trial.

Sources

Thank you to the ACLU for taking a stand for our civil liberties!


 

In Revolution,

Paradise
Virginia NOW
Communications Vice President
communicationsvp@vanow.org

So all these companies making money off your personal information, do you receive a check?

 UnitedStatesPrivacyLaw
The state of California is the furthest along in establishing privacy laws for its people. This includes medical privacy, internet privacy, as well as laws that restrict businesses, medical facilities, the internet from using your personal information to make money for themselves. After all, do you receive a check from the profits they make off of you?
 

California Law – Constitutional Right to Privacy


California Privacy Rights Include:


Public Record Exemption for Sex Offense Victims California Government Code section 6254 and California Penal Code section 293. These laws prohibit the disclosure of the names and addresses of victims of specific sex-related crimes in documents provided in response to requests for records, including responses provided under the California Public Records Act.
Domestic Violence Victim Privacy – California Civil Code section 1798.79.8 This law prohibits a domestic violence victim service provider from being required to reveal the personally identifying information of its clients or potential clients as a part of applying for or receiving grants or financial assistance for its services. It defines “victim service provider” to mean a non-governmental organization that provides shelter or services to victims of domestic violence.

Medical Information, Collection for Direct Marketing Purposes – California Civil Code section1798.91. This law prohibits a business from seeking to obtain medical information from an individual for direct marketing purposes without, (1) clearly disclosing how the information will be used and shared, and (2) getting the individual’s consent.

Medical Information Confidentiality – California Civil Code sections 56-56.37.This law puts limits on the disclosure of patients’ medical information by medical providers, health plans, pharmaceutical companies, and many businesses organized for the purpose of maintaining medical information. It specifically prohibits many types of marketing uses and disclosures. It requires an electronic health or medical record system to protect the integrity of electronic medical information and to automatically record and preserve any change or deletion.

Court Records: Protection of Victim and Witness Information – California Penal Code section 964.This law requires the district attorney and the courts in each county to establish a procedure to protect confidential personal information regarding any witness or victim contained in a police report, arrest report, or investigative report submitted to a court by a prosecutor in support of a criminal complaint, indictment, or information, or by a prosecutor or law enforcement officer in support of a search warrant or an arrest warrant.

The state of Virginia has no procedure in place to protect an individual’s privacy regarding public court records.  Instead of protecting victim/witness information, Virginia has the opposite law –>  Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

(*)(*)(*)

 

InformationPrivacy

Disposal of Customer Records – California Civil Code sections 1798.80 – 1798.81 and 1798.84.These sections require businesses to shred, erase or otherwise modify the personal information when disposing of customer records under their control. It provides a “safe harbor” from civil litigation for a business that has come into possession of records containing personal information that were abandoned, so long as the business disposes of them as provided in the statute.

Electronic Eavesdropping – California Penal Code sections 630-638. Among other things, this law prohibits, with exceptions, electronic eavesdropping on or recording of private communications by telephone, radio telephone, cellular radio telephone, cable or any other device or in any other manner.  It prohibits cable TV and satellite TV operators from monitoring or recording conversations in a subscriber’s residence, or from sharing individually identifiable information on subscriber viewing habits or other personal information without written consent (section 637.5).

Electronic Surveillance in Rental Cars – California Civil Code section 1936. This law prohibits vehicle rental companies from using, accessing, or obtaining information relating to a renter’s use of a rental vehicle obtained using onboard electronic surveillance technology, except in limited circumstances. It requires rental companies to obtain a renter’s consent before using or disclosing information about the renter’s use of the vehicle.

Employment of OffendersCalifornia Penal Code section 4017.1 and Penal Code section 5071 and California Welfare and Institutions Code section 219.5. Prison and county jail inmates may not have jobs that give them access to personal information. The same prohibitions apply to offenders performing community service in lieu of a fine or custody.

Identification Devices, Prohibition on Bodily Implanting – California Civil Code section 52.7.This law prohibits a person from requiring, coercing, or compelling any other individual to undergo the subcutaneous implanting of an identification device. The law specifically requires that it be liberally construed to protect privacy and bodily integrity. The law also provides for the assessment of civil penalties for violation, as specified, and allows an aggrieved party to bring an action for damages and injunctive relief, subject to a 3-year statute of limitation, or as otherwise provided.

 

More

What is Empowerment?

By Lauriane Lebrun Empowerment.  From “empower” (em-pou-er). “1) To give power or authority to; authorize, especially by legal or official means. 2) To enable or permit.” I have been thinking about this word a lot.  As one will find in the design plans for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, “empowerment” is set to be the memorial theme.  […]

https://suffragistmemorial.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/what-is-empowerment/

Medical Privacy: Not So Private

 

Many patients don’t realize that a physician’s ability to service the community can be suspended or retracted entirely by the DEA for their patient’s misuse or diversion of drugs.

(*)  ###  (*)

Why is this an issue for the everyday American who never intends to overdose or abuse their prescription dosage?

protectpatientinfo.jpg

 

 

The DEA is implementing stricter and stricter regulations on physicians and their ability to provide prescriptions. They are also enforcing legal penalties for abuse of prescription drugs on the doctor who prescribed them as well as the patient who actually broke “regulation”.

For example, if a patient went to a second doctor in addition to their primary one to gain a second prescription, the DEA now uses the Prescription Monitoring Program to enforce the legal repercussions against the doctors who prescribed a medication for their patient in addition to the person who committed the crime.


(*)    The DEA’s agenda is not medical. It is political.   (*)

 

They are expecting doctors to be responsible for their patient’s actions outside of the office.

  • Why is it the doctor’s fault if a patient were to overdose on a medication?
  • Why should the doctor to go prison or lose their medical license if their patient obtained duplicate medications from another physician?

 

They shouldn’t be. They’re not cops. They’re there to provide the best health care possible. They can’t do this if the DEA puts so many barriers in their way that they’re afraid to write up a legitimate prescription that could save a life, prolong a life, or enrich one.

The DEA is the enforcing arm of this agenda, the “messenger”.

 

The Department of Health and Human Services (through the Food and Drug Administration) has the responsibility of making medical recommendations on drug related issues to the Secretary of Health based on scientific evaluations.

Beyond the medical spectrum, the Office of Diversion Control (DEA Headquarters) has expanded its department making it a primary goal to “regulate” controlled substances in hopes of decreasing drug abuse.

Under federal law, all businesses which manufacture or distribute controlled drugs, all health professionals entitled to dispense, administer or prescribe them, and all pharmacies entitled to fill prescriptions must register with the DEA. Registrants must comply with a series of regulatory requirements relating to drug security, records accountability, and adherence to standards.

All of these investigations are conducted by Diversion Investigators (DIs), a specialist position within the DEA assigned to investigate suspected sources of diversion and take appropriate criminal and/or administrative actions. Prescription Database Management Programs (PDMP) aid and facilitate investigation and surveillance.

Sometimes in an effort to solve a problem, we end up creating a new one. Sometimes with the most sincere motivations, laws do more to restrict our freedom than to protect the innocent.

(*)

Our privacy, protection, and freedom rely on the level of medical expertise and the direct relationship between doctor and patient access permitted within our healthcare system.

 

Fight for the future.

 (*)  ###  (*)

  More

Plan B WANTED – On the Shelves in Virginia

PlanB

Plan B WANTED, On the Shelves

Hey Virginia, we have a scavenger hunt for you. If you spot Plan B on the shelves at your local grocery store or any pharmacy, send us a pic! Several of our members have reported not finding it, but having store managers say it will only be available behind their counters.

We need to get emergency contraception on the shelf, without IDs and without explanations.  Send pics of it out there so we can thank pharmacies that are following the law and empowering choice. Ready? Go!

P.S.  Feel free to start a hashtag, #PlanBWanted !  Post it on our Facebook or twitter pages!

facebook.com/VirginiaNOW
twitter.com/VirginiaNOW

Shine on in Revolution,

Paradise Kendra
Communications VP
Virginia NOW

Virginia Is For Lovers, Ken.

Virginia NOW affirms the established right of privacy in any consensual adult relationship without government interference at any level, of any branch, or by any officer. We refuse to return to discriminatory “anti-sodomy” laws of the past concerning so-called “vice” in order to mollify the cultural anxiety of misinformed ultraconservatives.

Virginia NOW asserts that the state and federal governments have no business in our bedrooms, our consenting adult relationships, our reproductive choices, nor in the gender combination or marital status under which we engage in sex or love. A sexually healthy and enjoyable future is part of a progressive agenda. Virginia is, after all, for lovers!

As a leading organization working for women’s rights and equality for all, Virginia NOW opposes Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s misguided campaign to restore Virginia’s regressive “crimes against nature” law.

We demand better protections for our children from sexual predators, and we demand to remain free to engage in consenting adult relationships without the interference of the state. These are not contradictory demands.

Cuccinelli’s actions in this and other cases indicate that he will pursue his personal agenda regardless of its impact on Virginians and regardless of court rulings, legislative process, or even common sense. As he did in forcing the adoption of hospital-level standards for health and abortion clinics, in fighting health care reform, in opposing non-discrimination policies at state colleges and universities and adoption, and in harassing a professor researching climate change, Cuccinelli is using the office of attorney general to impose his will.

Such demagoguery and aggression are not meaningful politics or policy. The private lives of consenting adults are not up for regulation, and certainly should not become collateral damage in the revisionist efforts currently pursued by the Republican candidate for governor.

Virginia NOW calls on all candidates from both parties in statewide and local elections to oppose Cuccinelli’s attempts to reinstate Virginia’s regressive “crimes against nature” law. Virginia NOW calls on voters to support candidates who will work on job creation and healthcare for all and on issues of equality and justice, rather than intrusions into our bedrooms and private lives.

Voter Registration  

DonateVANOWPAC Donate to Virginia NOW

                              

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Background

Note:  Not all Virginia NOW members are lawyers or legal experts, however:

Virginia NOW finds that the context of the Attorney General’s current appeal to the Supreme Court to reinstate Virginia’s “anti-sodomy” laws helps to bring his larger intentions into sharp focus. Like many ultraconservatives, he seems to think the cultural modernity of the 20th and 21st centuries is a problem to be solved by a kind of counter-reformation.

In April 2013, Virginia’s anti-sodomy / crimes against nature law was struck down. The full range of normal adult sexual behavior has only been decriminalized in VA since this past spring—and that includes “lascivious cohabitation.” The state’s attorney general is currently seeking a stay of this 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling by the Supreme Court.

Our Attorney General wants the “crimes against nature” law back in place in order prosecute a 47-year-old man who solicited a teenager for oral sex. But, Supreme Court cases are rarely limited to the one act that sets them in motion. Virginia laws on sex and consent are complicated, and they seem to allow minors over the age of 15 to consent to sex with minors of a similar age, but they do not allow consent between teens and adults (as well they should not.)

Cuccinelli is using a statutory rape case to reinstate laws that he’s been told three times Virginia’s courts would rather not have on the books. He’s launching a website in support of the crimes against nature laws under the guise of protecting Virginia’s children from predators.

We need better laws against child rape and the sexual abuse of children, which he did not fight for as Attorney General. His lack of oversight allowed this 47-year-old to violate a minor and suffer rather light consequences. We also need our personal liberty. Neither is optional, and they do not contradict each other.

“Crimes against nature laws” have historically been used to harass and jail LGBTQIA citizens; and have been considered unconstitutional by many since the Lawrence v. Texas SCOTUS decision in 2003. (Again, the authors are not constitutional lawyers.)

The freedom to live in one’s gender expression, to transition into one’s true gender, to love the person one’s heart is set on, to cohabitate, to live alone, to abstain from love or sex, or to enjoy sex for the sheer fun of it all have not one thing to do with punishing sexual predators who violate the bodily and spiritual integrity of Virginian adults or children.

There’s a worrying context here. Attorney General Cuccinelli is well known for his culturally conservative views—his arguments from Natural Law doctrine, for instance:

In 2009, Cuccinelli told the Virginian-Pilot that “homosexual acts” are wrong. ”They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law-based country, it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that. … They don’t comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents (to put it politely; I need my thesaurus to be polite) behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society,” he said. – The Huffington Post

He loosely references the doctrine in the amicus brief he co-authored in support of Prop 8 in which he also argues that same-sex marriage opens a slippery slope to polygamy—despite the painfully obvious logical and historical weakness of slippery slope arguments.  The SCOTUS did not agree with Mr. Cuccinelli concerning Prop 8, and went right on to overturn DOMA. Never mind that in that case of Mother Nature v. Natural Law, Mother Nature prevails. Turns out Natural Law isn’t all that natural.

But, the Attorney General follows often equally specious argumentative lines in his (more successful) sieges on women’s reproductive care via crushing regulation on health care and abortion clinics, his patent refusal to allow the Department of Juvenile Justice and the state’s universities to adopt non-discrimination policies for LGBTQIA youth, and his barring of the Board of Social Services from protecting:

Virginians seeking to adopt or foster children, and children eligible for adoption or foster care, from discrimination by licensed child placing agencies based on race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability and family status. – The ACLU

That is, such agencies are allowed to refuse adoption on these, ahem, “grounds.”

Given this record of behavior, Virginia NOW thinks Cuccinelli is running a cultural agenda based on his own faith and moral compass and not on the shared interests and rights of all Virginians. He’s wasting the Commonwealth’s tax dollars on a petition to the Supreme Court that seems to be going nowhere fast given recent rulings. And, according the same ACLU article just cited, he doesn’t seem to understand the boundaries of the power of his office. It seems that the only force that can impede the culture warrior in is the power of an election.

In the United States, we do not rule from religious doctrine, but from reason and with a bias toward the expansion of civil and personal liberties. We seek to protect our citizens from violation and damage, but not from pursuits of happiness that harm none—whether lascivious or not.

Ken Cuccinelli clearly does not hold to this long and honorable tradition.

Virginia NOW calls on all candidates from both parties in statewide and local elections to oppose Cuccinelli’s attempts to reinstate Virginia’s regressive “crimes against nature” law.  Virginia NOW encourages voters to support candidates who talk about jobs, healthcare for all, equality and justice, rather than intrusions into our bedrooms and private lives.