I note with some glee that Ken Cuccinelli, who has made an issue of keeping Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature” law on the books* (1) said in 2008 that he thought the adultery laws ought not only to stay on the books be to be enforced and (2) is ducking away from that stance now that he’s running for Governor.

Now it ought to be strange that support for criminalizing “unnatural” sex acts counts as less extreme than criminalizing adultery. Adultery often isn’t a victimless act. And – unlike same-sex activity – it violates one of the Ten Commandments (#8 7, if you’re keeping score at home): behind murder, but ahead of theft. From the viewpoint of “Biblical” or “family” values, adultery ought to be a BFD, and its criminal prohibition a no-brainer.

Of course it isn’t. And, when I think about what enforcing that law would look like, I’m glad it isn’t. But I’m also glad to have the real agenda of the Religious Right displayed in public. It’s not faith, or family, or chastity. It’s just plain hatred. Cuccinelli, who favors imprisoning gays for consensual sexual acts, doesn’t dare to offend adulterers. He needs their votes.

* Cuccinelli’s story is that the law used only against those who molest minors, use force, or have sex in public. He doesn’t mention that, when the chance arose, he opposed replacing it with a law to forbid … molesting minors, using force, and having sex in public. He also hasn’t explained why a 47-year-old man who has ordinary intercourse with a 17-year-old girl should get off with a misdemeanor conviction, while if he gets a BJ it ought to be a felony. And now he’s complaining that if the law he refused to update is struck down, some bad people will have to be dropped from the sex-offender registry. Boo freaking hoo.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

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Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.