Calendar for April
1941 — The New Hampshire Supreme Court interprets the
state’s "unnatural and lascivious acts" law to include fellatio.
1970 — The Arizona Supreme Court rules that masturbation
of another person violates the "lewd or lascivious conduct" law.
New laws take effect repealing consensual sodomy laws in
Delaware (1973) and South Dakota (1977).
1975 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rules
that the city’s solicitation law outlaws solicitation only for sodomy,
because the Court feels that sodomy is the only sex act that is
"indecent" or "obscene" within the meaning of the law.
1977 — The Rhode Island Supreme Court upholds the state’s
"crime against nature" law against a vagueness challenge.
1982 — Washington repeals its law banning media publicity
of sodomy crimes.
1991 — The Georgia Court of Appeals overturns a
solicitation conviction because the undercover officer encouraged the
1790 — Tennessee receives North Carolina law, including
its capital sodomy law.
1906 — New Jersey prohibits "private lewdness,"
which apparently includes oral sex.
1907 — Iowa prohibits sending anyone convicted of sodomy
to the state Reformatory. All must go to the Penitentiary.
1952 — A New York court dismisses the disorderly conduct
charge of a man who asked an undercover police officer to go to his apartment
1974 — Kentucky passes a new criminal code that reduces
the penalty for sodomy from a felony to a misdemeanor, makes the law
applicable only to people of the same sex.
1980 — Pennsylvania eliminates sodomy as a ground for
1930 — West Virginia outlaws oral sex. With its new
criminal code, it finally eliminates the term "buggery" from its
1939 — Colorado outlaws oral sex, more than 11 years
after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that fellatio was not a "crime
against nature." It also lowers the maximum penalty from life to 14
years. The law includes an emergency clause, but why 11 years could pass
before it became an emergency is unclear.
1963 — Colorado repeals its ban on voting by anyone
convicted of sodomy.
1975 — New Mexico passes a sexual offenses revision,
repealing the state’s sodomy law, but retaining common-law crimes.
1989 — The Washington Court of Appeals finds a privacy
interest in sex in enclosed restroom stalls.
1799 — Pennsylvania makes its sodomy law perpetual.
1939 — The Iowa Supreme Court upholds a sodomy conviction
with an opinion giving no details other than that it "appears" that
an indictment preceded the trial.
1973 — Montana passes a new criminal code and keeps
sodomy as a felony, but makes the act criminal only between persons of the
same sex. The maximum penalty is reduced from life to 10 years.
1923 — Delaware prohibits probation for sodomy.
1939 — Massachusetts requires notice to police whenever
someone convicted of sodomy is released from prison.
1961 — The Ohio Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man based entirely on "unusual circumstances"
occurring near his home and "strange conduct" of the defendant. The
dissenters say that they "do not recall reviewing a record more replete
with prejudicial error" and that they "cannot find any evidence of
acts even related to the charge in the indictment."
1995 — Arizona Governor Fife Symington vetoes a bill to
exempt misdemeanant sex offenders (such as those convicted of consensual
sodomy) from DNA testing.
1912 — The Nevada Supreme Court overturns a conviction
for assault to commit sodomy because the jury was not instructed on possible
1928 — The California Supreme Court overturns a sodomy
conviction for activity on veterans’ home property, saying that the federal
government has jurisdiction.
1929 — A police raid on the Lafayette Baths in New York
leads to charges being filed against patrons for acts they never committed.
One patron has two ribs broken and is blinded in one eye by police brutality.
1935 — The Kansas Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man for sex with consenting teens. Favorable testimony to him
is excluded from the trial.
1970 — The Colorado Supreme Court rules that cunnilingus
violates the state’s sodomy law.
1971 — The Indiana Supreme Court upholds the state’s
sodomy law against a vagueness challenge. A powerful dissent by Justice Roger
de Bruler indicts the majority for failure to see its own prejudice in the
1984 — A Louisiana appellate court overturns a man’s
conviction for exposing and fondling an undercover police officer. The court
said that the state’s law on indecent exposure requires that the defendant
expose him or herself, not another person.
1934 — A California appellate court overturns a lewd
& lascivious conduct conviction because the only witness had been coached
in his answers.
1959 — A California appellate court upholds the right of
a court to reduce the penalty only of one partner in a consensual act of oral
1972 — Hawaii passes a new criminal code, repealing its
sodomy law, raising the number of repeal states to five.
1989 — New Mexico enacts a Uniform Code of Military
Justice for its militia and includes a specific sodomy provision.
1995 — Mississippi enacts a sex offender registration law
that includes the state’s sodomy law.
1835 — John Smith and James Pratt are hanged in London
for "unnatural crime."
1876 — Ohio outlaws the sale of sex toys.
1913 — Nebraska amends its sodomy law apparently to
outlaw fellatio, but not cunnilingus, using the same wording as Ohio and Iowa.
This is three years after the Nebraska Supreme Court decided that "crime
against nature" did not cover fellatio.
1943 — Texas amends its sodomy law to include fellatio.
1970 — Iowa requires a coroner’s inquest into deaths
caused by "crimes against nature."
1975 — Nebraska enacts a new sexual assault law after
deleting repeal of the consensual sodomy law from it.
1885 — Colorado outlaws "sex toys."
1924 — The Indiana Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction even though testimony of other sexual partners was introduced into
1929 — The Utah Supreme Court, although upholding the
constitutionality of the 1925 sterilization law, rules that a prisoner caught
in the act of consensual sodomy with another prisoner, and who is described as
"acting lovingly toward other boys in the prison," can not be
sterilized for that reason alone.
1951 — A California appellate court rules that anyone who
commits sodomy is also a vagrant.
1956 — Arizona enacts a unique law outlawing kidnapping
for purposes of sodomy.
1962 — New York amends its sodomy law to permit both
parties in an act of oral sex to be considered guilty, following a 1961 court
decision interpreting the law literally that only the "active"
partner was guilty.
1965 — In a case from a 1962 Mansfield witch hunt, a
federal court in Ohio rules that criminal prosecutions for sodomy can not be
brought into federal court under federal civil rights laws.
1970 — The Oregon Court of Appeals overturns the sodomy
conviction of a man who pleaded guilty with the understanding that the maximum
sentence was 15 years in prison, but who received a life sentence under the
indeterminate sentencing law.
1855 — California outlaws making an assault to commit the
crime against nature, with a penalty of 1-14 years.
1865 — The Iowa Supreme Court rules that a woman accused
of sodomy can sue for slander, five years after saying that a man could not.
It says that the rule should be different for women.
1869 — North Carolina reduces the penalty for sodomy from
20-60 years to 5-60 years.
1953 — Tennessee changes its law on infamous crimes
(which includes sodomy) to permit those convicted of them to testify in
trials, but to allow their credibility to be attacked.
1966 — A newsletter of Wisconsin Republicans criticizes
the recent resolution of the state’s Young Democrats to support repeal of
the state’s sodomy law.
1967 — A California appellate court upholds the
disorderly conduct conviction of a man who solicited an undercover officer in
public for private sex.
1968 — Georgia adopts a new criminal code and raises the
penalty for sodomy from 1-10 years to 1-20 years. It also specifically covers
cunnilingus between two women for the first time.
1980 — A Maryland appellate court upholds the state’s
sodomy law, citing Biblical references to it.
1780 — William Smith and Theodosius Reed are pilloried in
England for attempted sodomy. They are attacked by a crowd throwing objects,
killing Smith. The London Morning Post endorsed the crowd’s actions.
1900 — The Iowa Supreme Court upholds the conviction of a
man for threatening another man unless he fellated him.
1925 — The Kansas Supreme Court rules that fellatio is
outlawed by the "crime against nature" statute.
1950 — New York becomes the first state in the nation to
reduce the penalty for consensual sodomy from a felony to a misdemeanor, with
a maximum penalty of six months.
1955 — The Mississippi Supreme Court rules that fellatio
is a "crime against nature."
1963 — A New York appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of five prisoners for consensual sexual relations in their cells.
1986 — A Louisiana appellate court rules that
masturbation does not violate the state’s sodomy law.
1889 — Ohio amends its sodomy law to include fellatio. A
member of the state legislature tries unsuccessfully to block the bill’s
1921 — Minnesota amends its sodomy law to include oral
1950 — A Pennsylvania court rules that cunnilingus
violates the state’s sodomy law.
1841 — Michigan amends its sodomy law to specify that
emission of semen is not necessary for completion of the crime.
1883 — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rules that
sodomy can now be prosecuted in the state due to a change in the common-law
1955 — The Oklahoma Court of Appeals upholds the state’s
sodomy law, but notes the Kinsey studies.
1851 — The Prussian criminal code makes sodomy male-male
only, but eliminates the death penalty.
1881 — Indiana reinstates sodomy as a crime after a
29-year hiatus and includes the term "carnal knowledge of a man,"
thus possibly including fellatio. It also abrogates common-law crimes and
outlaws "sex toys."
1958 — The Mississippi Supreme Court rejects an
entrapment defense in a sodomy case.
1987 — Mississippi creates a "Sex Offense Criminal
History Record Information" program. It creates a state registry of
convicted sex criminals, including for consensual sodomy. Employers are
permitted to request information about employees from it.
1994 — The Mississippi Supreme Court upholds the
constitutionality of the state’s sodomy law. It also rules that penetration
is not required to complete the crime.
1966 — The Minnesota Supreme Court rules that a person
can be convicted of an attempt to commit sodomy, even though not charged with
any intent to commit sodomy.
1974 — The Colorado Supreme Court strikes down a state
law prohibiting loitering for purposes of engaging in or soliciting deviate
1998 — An appellate court in Quebec strikes down a
provision of the Canadian Criminal Code that sets an age of consent of 18 for
anal sex, but 14 for all other sexual activity.
1846 — New Jersey’s new criminal code makes the
"crime against nature" law gender-neutral. It also excludes anyone
convicted of sodomy from being a witness in a trial.
1850 — California outlaws sodomy, with a penalty of 5
years-to-life, although the law may be invalid. Its preamble states its
authority as the "state" of California, which doesn’t become a
state until September.
1914 — Columbus Mayor George Karb orders police to stop
making arrests for gambling and vice. It is three years before his action
becomes public, but the number of sodomy arrests in the city drops to zero.
1920 — Maryland defines "lewdness" as "any
unnatural sexual practice."
1964 — A New York appellate court upholds the conviction
of a man for sodomy despite a non-unanimous vote of a judicial panel and the
testimony of the man’s wife.
1973 — Indiana amends its sodomy law to lower to 18 the
maximum age at which a person can be convicted of sodomy for assisting another
person to masturbate.
1702 — East and West New Jersey are united into the
colony of New Jersey and the English buggery statute is regarded as in force.
1857 — Maine sets a one-year minimum for sodomy and
eliminates the word "detestable" from the sodomy law.
1950 — The Arkansas Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man after a private letter of his was opened and read by the
police without a warrant.
1952 — California eliminates the maximum penalty for
sodomy, allowing life imprisonment.
1967 — The Arkansas Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction based entirely on circumstantial evidence, overruling a 1925
decision that required more proof.
1968 — The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rules that
Indiana’s sodomy law can not be enforced against married couples, even
though the law does not exempt them.
1892 — New York amends its sodomy law. The five-year
minimum penalty is eliminated and the intention of the legislature is more
clear, covering all forms of anal and oral sex, but not covering things like
mutual masturbation or frottage, which may have been covered under the 1886
1916 — Maryland outlaws oral sex, although its statute is
so broadly worded that probably any form of erotic activity is criminalized.
This is in reaction to the 1915 state vice commission report.
1930 — New Jersey prohibits solicitation for lewdness.
1967 — A federal judge in Wisconsin overturns the state
courts’ decisions against a man who had spent more than ten years in
institutions for a sodomy conviction. He had no assistance of counsel at the
1973 — The Minnesota House of Representatives defeats a
bill to repeal the state’s sodomy law.
1983 — Kansas passes a new sodomy law that makes sodomy
for hire a less serious crime that not for hire.
1890 — A sodomy case in Pennsylvania is reported
officially in a daily newspaper, rather than in a law reporter.
1900 — The North Dakota Supreme Court upholds the right
of the state to prosecute attempts to commit sodomy under the general attempts
1913 — The Illinois Supreme Court rules that cunnilingus
is not a "crime against nature" under that’s state’s sodomy law,
even though the Court had ruled fellatio to be one due to the state’s
unusually broad language.
1933 — Alabama enacts a unique law that outlaws
"conspiracy to commit the crime against nature."
1991 — An Ohio trial court dismisses an importuning
charge because the undercover police officer led the defendant on.
1995 — Arizona revises its sex offender registration law
to remove sodomy from the list of compulsory registration categories, but
permits judges to order registration if the defendant committed sodomy for
1836 — The organic law for the Wisconsin Territory adopts
all laws of Michigan, thus setting the penalty for sodomy at a maximum of 3
years at solitary and hard labor.
1909 — Minnesota increases the penalty for the crime
against nature to a maximum of 20 years and permits conviction upon proof of
1923 — Michigan eliminates the need to prove emission in
1949 — The Georgia Attorney General issues an opinion
that the reduction in maximum sentence for sodomy earlier that year was not
1972 — Tennessee eliminates the voting disability of
those convicted of sodomy.
1979 — The Virginia Supreme Court affirms the
solicitation conviction of a man entrapped by the Richmond police
"Selective Enforcement Unit."
1806 — English sailor James Jones receives 24 lashes for
sex with another sailor. One month earlier, he had received 18 for a similar
1916 — The Georgia Supreme Court rules that both parties
in an act of fellatio are principals.
1965 — The Oregon Court of Appeals rules that consent to
sodomy while in a drunken stupor is no consent.
1967 — The Maryland Court of Appeals overturns a sodomy
conviction because the arresting police testified that the defendant had a
1976 — The Florida Supreme Court upholds the
constitutionality of the "unnatural and lascivious act" law without
hearing arguments in the case.
1992 — Estonia repeals its sodomy law.
1794 — Pennsylvania enacts a law to fine sheriffs for
failure to conduct convicted sodomites to prison.
1829 — Pennsylvania passes a new sodomy law with a
penalty of 1-5 years for a first offense and up to 10 years for a second
1841 — Hawaii passes a vagrancy law that prohibits men
and boys from running "in crowds after new things" in an
1941 — A California appellate court rules that actual
penetration must occur to violate the oral copulation law.
1952 — The New York State Court of Appeals overturns a
sodomy conviction because of uncorroborated testimony of the partner being
admitted into evidence.
1957 — The Alabama Court of Appeals rules that the
testimony of accomplices in sodomy cases must be corroborated.
1969 — Kansas passes a new criminal code and becomes the
first state in the nation to makes its sodomy law applicable only to people of
the same sex. It also reduces the penalty from a felony to a misdemeanor. The
commission writing the code tells the legislature that the language is
standard in new codes, even though no other state has such a provision.
1977 — Vermont passes a new sexual assault law that
includes a repeal of its law banning oral sex.
1953 — The Indiana Supreme Court overturns the conviction
of a man for sodomy because the indictment did not specify the act as being
either with mankind or beast.
1990 — The Virginia Court of Appeals overturns the
solicitation conviction of a man for saying to a woman, "I want to lick
your pussy," even though the court earlier had upheld a Gay man’s
solicitation conviction for telling an undercover police officer that he
wanted to see him naked.
1913 — The Indiana Supreme Court rules that the 1905 law
with the term "crime against nature" does outlaw fellatio. This
decision is widely quoted by courts in other states when they are confronted
with the same issue.
1986 — Kansas outlaws the sale of "sex toys."
1757 — In Frisia, the Netherlands, professional comedian
Paulus van Amsterdam is acquitted of "seduction to sodomy."
1915 — Alaska outlaws oral sex.
1944 — The Puerto Rico Supreme Court rules that
drunkenness is not a mitigating factor in sodomy cases.
1965 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge
to the North Carolina sodomy law.
1966 — A Pennsylvania court rules that "sodomy"
does not have to be defined to jurors.
1967 — Nevada amends its sodomy law to clarify that any
penetration constitutes a violation. This law also reduces the penalty from 1
year-life to 1-6 years.
1977 — The New York State Court of Appeals refuses to
consider a challenge to the sodomy law’s marital exemption without the
defendants having been convicted of sodomy first.
1978 — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rules that an
enclosed booth in an adult theatre is a public place.
1914 — The Washington Supreme Court reverses a conviction
for "attempt" to commit sodomy, claiming that the indictment was too
1938 — The Maine Supreme Court rules that fellatio
violates the state’s "crime against nature" law.
1951 — A California appellate court rejects the effort of
an oral copulation defendant to prove he wasn’t Gay, saying the law covers
straight people, too.
1971 — Alaska amends its sodomy law to eliminate the
specific reference to oral sex, thereby unintentionally legalizing it.
1991 — Montana revises its sodomy law to prohibit
prosecution because of evidence that a person is being treated for AIDS, and
barring admission of that evidence into a trial.
1862 — The first criminal code for the Dakota Territory
makes sodomy punishable by mandatory life imprisonment in what is now North
Dakota and South Dakota.
1914 — The Nevada Supreme Court rules that fellatio
violates the state’s "crime against nature" law and that the crime
against nature can not be committed without at least one male participating.
1937 — The North Carolina Supreme Court overturns the
crime against nature conviction of a man because his indictment did not
specify commitment of the act "feloniously."
1944 — A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation conviction of a man who fled and was tripped by an arresting
1946 — An anti-Gay witch hunt begins in Lima, Ohio. Only
three men are arrested although early inflammatory police reports said that
hundreds were involved in a "sodomy ring." Before sentencing to
prison, the three are required to turn over a list of all known Gay people in
1954 — Member of the English Parliament Robert Boothby,
in a debate, opposes jailing Gay men because he feels that homosexuality is
1969 — A New York trial court denies any First Amendment
right of actors to commit sodomy on stage, even if it is part of the play
1972 — The New Hampshire Supreme Court rules that an
attempt to commit sodomy is indictable under the state’s sodomy law.
1992 — The Missouri Court of Appeals rules that the
sodomy law is not violated merely by rubbing a vagina.
1870 — In London, two men, Boulton and Park, are tried
for public cross-dressing and are examined, without legal authority, for
evidence of sodomy. They are charged with conspiracy to commit sodomy, on the
theory that all cross-dressers are Gay prostitutes. Boulton’s real-life
lover is a Member of Parliament, Lord Arthur Pelham Clinton.
1896 — A Texas court rejects the claim of a man convicted
of sodomy that anal intercourse between a man and a woman doesn’t constitute
1913 — William Quartier, the pharmacist at the Oregon
State Penitentiary, is arrested for sodomy "under dramatic
circumstances" at the penitentiary.
1922 — The Hawaii Supreme Court rules that the
"crime against nature" outlaws fellatio. It criticizes the English
court decision of 1817 to the contrary for not giving any reason for saying
that fellatio was not sodomy, even though it doesn’t give any reason for
saying that fellatio is sodomy.
1955 — The Utah Supreme Court rejects drunkenness as a
1968 — The Arkansas Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction after derogatory remarks were made by the judge and refuses to
reduce the 10-year sentence, even while conceding that it was "unduly
1980 — A Florida appellate court refuses to review the
convictions of two men for sex in a restroom after they had been observed
through a ceiling mirror.
1993 — Russia repeals its sodomy law.
1998 — Alabama outlaws "sex toys."
1929 — Nebraska’s new sterilization law covers any male
convicted of rape, incest or the crime against nature.
1946 — A California appellate court overturns an oral
copulation conviction because the trial judge gave instructions to the jury
that were not understandable to a lay person.