Sheriff mum after meeting

Wolfinger may end Boy Scout charter after gay ban pulled

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COEUR d'ALENE - A meeting between the Inland Northwest Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Kootenai County sheriff didn't appear to change anything Tuesday.

Kootenai County Sheriff's Lt. Stu Miller said Sheriff Ben Wolfinger had no further comment on Friday's decision to pull the KCSO's Boy Scout charter. The sheriff announced he was pulling it because the BSA National Council passed a resolution last week that removed a ban against openly gay members in the scouts.

On Friday, Wolfinger said "It would be inappropriate for the sheriff's office to sponsor an organization that is promoting a lifestyle that is in violation of state law."

He said sodomy was illegal in the state of Idaho.

Tim McCandless, CEO of the Inland Northwest Council, said that he met with Wolfinger on Tuesday and agreed to provide him with more detailed information on the issue.

"We had a very good meeting about what the policy change means and what it doesn't mean," McCandless said, adding Wolfinger did not indicate whether he was going to pull the charter or not.

Wolfinger's comments sparked a heated online debate over the weekend, where commentors discussed the legality of private sex acts in the state.

According to the Associated Press, in June of 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a similar anti-sodomy law in Texas, saying that enforcement of sexual conduct between consenting adults in private was unconstitutional.

The Texas law in question was the "infamous crime against nature" statute.

That is the same Idaho code that Wolfinger is referring to in his decision to drop the charter.

Idaho Code 18-6605 and 18-6606 describe a crime against nature as: "Any sexual penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the crime against nature."

Idaho courts have further ruled that sodomy and certain oral sexual acts are in fact crimes against nature.

Ironically, the Idaho State Legislature was one of the first states to repeal its sodomy laws in 1971, but according to the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest, the move created an outrage in the Mormon and Catholic churches.

The Advocate, a gay newspaper at the time, reported the move created such a controversy that it prompted the Idaho Legislature to call a special session to reinstate the "crime against nature" laws. Those laws went back into effect in 1972.

"It is still on the books that way," Miller said, adding as long as it is on the books, that is what the sheriff is going to follow.

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