Calendar for August
1866 In an Indian medical journal, a doctor writes an
article called "Physical Evidences of Sodomy." He says that sodomy
is very common in large Indian cities.
1950 Congress enacts a home rule law for Guam that
retains all the extant Naval laws, including the consensual sodomy law.
1952 A New York judge dismisses the disorderly conduct
charge against two men for fondling each other in front of police.
1953 The New York Times publishes a false ad
from the mother of a man wanted for consensual sodomy in Ohio, leading to his
entrapment and arrest. The Times opened his letter of response and
turned it over to police.
1956 The Oklahoma Court of Appeals rules that emission
does not have to be proven in sodomy cases.
1956 England reduces the penalty for sodomy from life
to 2 years if above the age of consent. Since Vermont operates off English
law, this also reduces the penalty in Vermont.
1957 A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation convictions of two men for sex in a restroom stall, five years
before the California Supreme Court ruled that there was a privacy interest in
1963 Illinois amends its 1961 loitering law to
eliminate the discrimination between "deviate" and
1968 A Pennsylvania appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man after the trial court excluded testimony from a
psychiatrist and the defendants girlfriend that was favorable to him.
1982 Louisiana adds solicitation of the crime
against nature for money a violation of the states sodomy law.
1916 Irish patriot Roger Casement, 51, is hanged for
treason. The world-wide protest against his sentence ends abruptly when his
diary documenting his sexual relations with men is released. It is thought
that the English government uses the diary to make his death sentence more
appealing to the public.
1989 In Minnesota, State Representative Glen Anderson
is arrested for soliciting an undercover policeman for sex. He chairs the
House Appropriations Committee.
1959 The Montana Supreme Court reaffirms its 1915
decision that fellatio is a "crime against nature." The dissent of
Justice Hugh Adair is more than 12,000 words long and is an impassioned plea
for the adoption of the common-law definition of sodomy.
1918 The Maryland Attorney General issues an opinion to
military recruiters that sodomy is an "infamous crime" for which
applicants can be kept out of the military.
1637 John Allexander and Thomas Roberts are the first
men to be prosecuted for "lewd practices tending towards sodomy" in
Plymouth. Allexander is branded, flogged, and banished, whereas Roberts only
1861 The death penalty for sodomy is eliminated in
England and Wales, with the penalty reduced to life imprisonment. This action
also eliminates the death penalty for sodomy in New Mexico and Vermont, since
they operate off the English common law.
1868 Florida reduces the penalty for sodomy from death
to 20 years.
1923 A California appellate court affirms a sodomy
conviction following a jury instruction that the act was complete upon any
penetration, no matter how slight.
1941 Pennsylvania eliminates the ban on probation for
1973 A California appellate court upholds the aiding
and abetting conviction of a play director because actors engaged in oral
copulation in the play.
1975 The New Hampshire sexual assault reform law,
including repeal of the consensual sodomy law, takes effect.
2001 After the arrest of a judge for exposing himself
in a restroom, the Wayne County, Michigan District Attorney announces that
similar sex crimes will be prosecuted more restrictively than before.
1989 A Michigan appellate court rules that the states
gross indecency law applies only to nonconsensual activity.
1990 The Missouri Court of Appeals rules that placing a
finger in the rectum does not violate the states sodomy law.
1969 The Alaska Supreme Court strikes down a portion of
the states sodomy law because the term "crime against nature" is
too vague and overbroad.
1855 A Cleveland newspaper reports that two men were
found "stripped naked" in a puddle after a rainstorm, then adds
sarcastically, "It is supposed they were cleaning out the gutter."
1935 The Governor of Oregon announces that he will not
pardon any convicted sex criminals unless they are sterilized sexually. He
also says that, following the lead of Nazi Germany, he will look into
expanding the states sterilization law.
1963 A Pennsylvania court finds a man guilty of sodomy
even though his alleged victim admitted he lied.
1982 The Michigan Supreme Court overturns the gross
indecency conviction of a man for soliciting an undercover police officer for
sex for money. The Court says that a third party would have to be involved in
order to allow the conviction to stand.
1960 The Oregon Supreme Court overturns a life sentence
for sodomy under the indeterminate sentencing law.
1972 The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rules
that sodomy for hire falls within the bawdy house law.
1978 New Jersey passes a new criminal code that repeals
that states sodomy law.
1894 The California Supreme Court reverses the sodomy
conviction of a man because he has not been told of his right to challenge
potential jurors. The Court finds nothing wrong either with his lack of an
attorney or a sentence of 41 years in prison.
1833 Henry Nichols is hanged in England for sodomy. His
entire family abandons him, refusing to see him in prison, and refusing to
claim his body.
1898 England prohibits the solicitation of sexual
relations with a male by a male. This is termed "vagrancy" by the
1957 The Wolfenden Commission in England recommends the
decriminalization of private, consensual sodomy.
1977 The Michigan Department of Civil Rights makes a
recommendation to repeal the states sodomy and gross indecency laws.
1959 The Oregon Attorney General issues an opinion that
the term "moral degenerates" in the states sterilization law
should be defined by the sterilization board because of the impossibility of
defining it exactly.
1848 The Oregon Territory is organized and all laws
enacted by the first settlers are retained, thus keeping the Iowa sodomy law
and English common law.
1885 England outlaws "acts of gross
indecency" in public or private between males, but not females. This
expands the original 1533 buggery statute to include fellatio, frottage, and
1929 The North Dakota Supreme Court reverses a mans
sodomy conviction because prior convictions for the same offense were entered
as evidence in the trial.
1935 Congress outlaws sexual solicitation in the
District of Columbia.
1963 Illinois eliminates the voting disability for
those convicted of sodomy.
1920 Officials at the Boise City Traction Company catch
two men having sex in a restroom, having installed a spy hole from above. The
men are convicted of sodomy. Officials had tried to cover the glory hole with
wood or metal, but the coverings always "came off."
1921 A bill in England to outlaw "gross
indecency" between women is defeated in the House of Lords on the ground
that women do not know of such things. The sponsor of the bill makes the
understatement of the year: "...it is a well-known fact that any woman
who indulges in this vice will have nothing whatever to do with the other
1974 A Florida appellate court overturns an
"unnatural and lascivious acts" conviction due to admission of prior
acts with a different partner. In this case, a 14-year-old solicited the
1893 A paper by a psychiatrist advocates sexual
sterilization of "sexual perverts" who engage in sodomy.
1932 The Washington Supreme Court rules that both
partners in fellatio can be prosecuted as principals.
1953 A California appellate court upholds the
conviction of two women for sodomy. They were followed into a motel by police.
1959 The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the
deportation of an alien resident of 39 years for solicitation and says that
this is the only part of the New York breach of peace law that makes an alien
1953 George Ammon dies in the Ohio Penitentiary at the
age of 87. He has spent 17 years of his 20-year sentence for sodomy. He would
have been released at the age of 90.
1960 The District of Columbia Court of Appeals reverses
the conviction of a man entrapped by police into fondling them and declares
that, by using entrapment, the police are attempting to punish the status of
1897 Wisconsin prohibits fellatio, but not cunnilingus.
1991 A Michigan appellate court rules that the gross
indecency law applies only to nonconsensual acts. In the previous four years,
in five cases, appellate courts said the law applied to private activity in
two cases and not so in three, making it unclear which was correct.
1936 The Washington Supreme Court upholds the right of
the prosecution to enter books and pictures into evidence in sodomy trials.
1962 In Mansfield, one of the most incredible anti-Gay
witch hunts begins with camera surveillance of a public restroom. Thirty-eight
men are arrested. Every one is sentenced to the maximum of 1-20 years in
1868 North Carolina reduces the penalty for sodomy from
death to 20-60 years.
1942 News of a Gay sex scandal in Albergavenny,
England, breaks. Twenty-four men are sent to prison for sodomy.
1990 A Michigan appellate court upholds the
applicability of the gross indecency law to private, consensual activity, in
conflict with several other appellate courts in the state.
79 The eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroys Pompeii and
Herculaneum. One of the unexpected finds in its excavation is Gay graffiti
such as "On this spot Auctus copulated with Quintius."
1983 The U.S. Trust Territories (now known as the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) passes a new criminal code that
repeals its sodomy law.
1658 Nicholas Hillebrantsen is arrested on a sodomy
charge in New Netherland Colony, but the disposition of his case is unknown.
1985 The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturns a
trial court and appellate panels decisions that the Texas "homosexual
conduct" law was unconstitutional.
1873 Arkansas lowers the penalty for sodomy from death
to 5-21 years. This is the last death law for sodomy in the nation.
1947 The Washington Post editorializes in favor
of an expanded sodomy law for the District of Columbia, complaining that the
city had become "more or less a haven for sexual perverts and
1987 An Ohio appellate court upholds the public
indecency conviction of two men for sex in a closed stall of a public restroom
solely because they had not locked the door.
1857 England passes a divorce law allowing a wife to
divorce her husband, but not vice versa, because he engaged in sodomy.
1888 The Minnesota Supreme Court rules that the state
does not recognize common-law crimes.
1894 A Portland newspaper reports the arrest of a man
for sodomy with a committed partner. The two had been reported to police by a
1974 A federal court in Wisconsin rejects a vagueness
challenge to the states sodomy law.
1918 The California Supreme Court upholds the 1915
fellatio and cunnilingus law over the contention that the Latin terms violate
the states constitutional requirement that laws be written in English.
1922 The Washington Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction based only on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice.
1996 A Texas appellate court overturns the conviction
of a man for masturbating in a closed, locked restroom stall.
1969 California amends its disorderly conduct law to
eliminate the same-sex-only discrimination in the "lewd conduct"
1984 A Louisiana appellate court upholds the conviction
of a man for solicitation of an undercover police officer who was wired for
sound and had the solicitation recorded.