Calendar for December
1642 — Connecticut passes a law against sodomy, making
its law based upon the Old Testament proscription in Leviticus.
1715 — An Oxford University student notes in his diary
that sodomy was very common there. "It is dangerous sending a young man
who is beautiful to Oxford."
1881 — Washington recognizes common-law crimes, making
sodomy a crime.
1890 — The Montana Supreme Court affirms a sodomy
conviction because the man convicted had not preserved his appeal, leaving the
Court nothing to review.
1927 — A California appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man after a private investigator hid under his bed to catch
him in consensual sexual relations with his partner.
1978 — A Tennessee judge dismisses charges against four
Gay men, claiming that the 1977 sexual assault reform law repealed the crime
against nature law by implication.
1899 — American Samoa is obtained by the United States.
It has no law against sodomy, making it the only "free" jurisdiction
in the United States.
1909 — The Montana Supreme Court upholds the right of the
state to prosecute attempts to commit sodomy under the general attempts
1963 — Earl Kade, a prisoner at the Ohio Penitentiary is
killed by another prisoner because he had solicited him. The grand jury
refuses to indict the one for murder, feeling that the willful killing of a
non-violent person from behind was justifiable if the person had solicited.
1892 — The Michigan Supreme Court rules that emission is
required to complete an act of sodomy.
1973 — An Illinois appellate court upholds a public
indecency conviction of a man for sex with another man in bushes where they
could not be seen by others.
1895 — South Carolina’s new constitution denies the
right to vote to those convicted of the "crime against nature."
1911 — The Washington Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction over the contention of the defendant that the "victim"
had syphilis of the mouth and that the defendant didn’t have syphilis. The
defendant wanted to prove that the "victim" was actually an
1956 — The Idaho Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of the first Boys of Boise defendant whose case reaches the Court.
1986 — The Nevada Supreme Court affirms the dismissal of
a challenge to the "crime against nature" law because the
challengers were not being prosecuted.
1986 — The Georgia Supreme Court rules that an open bed
of a truck is a "public place" for sodomy law purposes.
1987 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals
overturns the solicitation conviction of a man who flagged down cars, got in,
and drove off, calling the evidence circumstantial only.
1640 — In England, John Atherton, an Anglican bishop, is
hanged for sodomy. A woodcut of the hanging is distributed to the public. In
prison, he prepares a defense of sodomy.
1642 — Servant Elizabeth Johnson is the first woman in
the New World to be prosecuted for sexual relations with another woman.
Massachusetts Bay Colony sentences her to be fined and flogged for the sexual
relations, as well as being rude to her mistress and refusing to listen to the
Bible when it is read.
1927 — The Colorado Supreme Court is the first court in
14 years to rule that fellatio does not constitute the "crime against
1951 — New Jersey reduces the maximum penalty for sodomy
from 21 years at hard labor to 20 years without hard labor.
1962 — The Ohio Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction, rejecting all constitutional questions without addressing them.
1963 — A New York appellate court overturns a sodomy
conviction because of unspecified "inflammatory remarks" by the
1967 — A Michigan appellate court upholds the consensual
sodomy conviction of two women who were making love inside a tent at a
campsite. They had been caressing each other outside the tent before and a
neighbor complained, who then notified police.
1918 — A California appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a soldier, rejecting an intoxication defense.
1927 — The Wisconsin Supreme Court rules that cunnilingus
is not a "crime against nature." The oral sex provision of the
Wisconsin law specifically outlaws only fellatio.
1956 — The South Carolina Supreme Court upholds a libel
judgement in favor of a 12-year-old boy against a newspaper for accusing him
of attempted sodomy with other boys during an initiation.
1957 — The Tennessee Supreme Court upholds an attempt to
commit the crime against nature by having "tried" to touch another
1972 — Pennsylvania passes a new criminal code that
reduces the penalty for sodomy from a felony to a misdemeanor and exempts
married couples from its coverage.
1978 — In a post-repeal case, a New Jersey appellate
court finds the state’s sodomy law unconstitutional as an invasion of
1989 — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules that
California’s high age of consent (18) does not violate equal protection of
the law because it is different from that of other states.
1682 — Pennsylvania outlaws sodomy with a first-offense
penalty of six months in jail, the first non-capital sodomy law in the English
colonies. The law also covers what now is Delaware.
1889 — The general ignorance of sex even by medical
professionals is revealed as Dr. A.B. Holder publishes an article on male
Absaroke American Indians and their oral sex practices. He assumes that the
fellator achieves orgasm along with the fellatee because he can not understand
why else fellatio would be practiced. He also calls oral sex "the most
debased [sex practice] that could be conceived of."
1915 — A Missouri appellate court rules that being called
a "cocksucker" is actionable as slander.
1917 — Russia decriminalizes sodomy by repealing its
entire criminal code.
1929 — The North Dakota Supreme Court rules that the
state’s law against indecent liberties covers all erotic acts not covered by
the state’s rape or sodomy laws.
1951 — A California appellate court rules that the state’s
oral copulation law is violated merely by placing the mouth on a sex organ,
even without penetration.
1954 — A Pennsylvania appellate court upholds the right
of a single jury to try a large number of sodomy cases from arrests at
"Homo-Haven," a resort.
1956 — The Tennessee Supreme Court upholds a 5-year
sentence for sodomy for a 17-year-old defendant.
1964 — The Maryland Court of Appeals rules that the
sodomy law applies to heterosexual activity.
1987 — A Michigan appellate court upholds a conviction
for merely kissing a penis, stating that penetration need not be proven.
1943 — A California appellate court upholds a crime
against nature conviction based on a judge’s "inferences" from
1989 — The Kansas Supreme Court rules that cunnilingus
does not violate the state’s sodomy law. Since the law applies only to
people of the same sex and covers only oral and anal sex, this means that Gay
men can be prosecuted under it, but Lesbians can not.
1806 — English sailor John Sky is acquitted of sodomy
after a physician testified that the inflammation of the victim’s rectum may
or may not have been caused by sodomy.
1829 — Tennessee passes a criminal code, after having
adopted North Carolina’s for several years. The penalty for sodomy is set at
1837 — Arkansas recognizes common-law crimes.
1899 — Ohio Governor Asa Bushnell commutes George Pague’s
sodomy sentence from three years to two years because of doubt as to his
1913 — The Missouri Supreme Court rules that cunnilingus
does not violate the state’s anti-oral sex law. It says that the charge of
"sexual intercourse with the mouth" is a contradiction in terms.
1967 — Jim Morrison, lead singer for The Doors, is
arrested in New Haven after having told a police officer to "eat it"
and directing him to his crotch. The charges later are dropped after much
negative publicity to the city.
1792 — Virginia eliminates its reliance on the English
buggery statute by passing its own statute that retains the death penalty.
1828 — New York lowers the penalty for sodomy from life
imprisonment to a maximum of ten years.
1957 — A New York appellate court overturns the sodomy
conviction of two men for sex in a restroom stall because the arresting
officer testified that he did not actually see an contact between them and
because one man’s employment time card, verifying that he was at work at the
time of the alleged offense, had been excluded from his trial.
1991 — A Missouri appellate court overturns a sodomy
conviction because the defendant’s homosexuality was made an issue. The
appellate court correctly notes that the homosexuality of a defendant is
1978 — A California appellate court overturns the
prostitution conviction of a man picked up by an undercover police officer.
His probation had prohibited him from talking to any male on the street, and
the appellate court found that unreasonable.
1704 — New Jersey dismisses all pending prosecutions for
most crimes, including sodomy.
1712 — South Carolina enacts a buggery statute with a
sentence of death.
1922 — The Florida Supreme Court reaffirms its decision
that fellatio is a "crime against nature."
1956 — The Idaho Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of the second Boys of Boise defendant whose case reaches the Court.
1956 — A California appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction after a warrantless body cavity search of the defendants.
1966 — A Pennsylvania trial court allows a sodomy
defendant to withdraw his guilty plea, entered under pressure from his
attorney in the hope that the court would be lenient with him.
1904 — The Iowa Supreme Court rules that
"irresistible insane impulse" is a possible defense against a charge
1912 — England requires flogging for a second violation
of the 1898 law prohibiting Gay solicitation.
1925 — A California appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man even though the prosecuting witness inexplicably left town
during trial and inconsistencies concerning facts were admitted into trial.
1932 — The Utah Supreme Court reverses the sodomy
conviction of a man that was based on the uncorroborated testimony of a
consenting partner and the admission of evidence of earlier acts with another
1933 — The Washington Supreme Court reaffirms that sodomy
defendants can be convicted on the uncorroborated testimony of a partner.
1937 — A California appellate court upholds the
convictions of 16 men for consensual sex in an isolated cabin. The police had
drilled holes in the ceiling to watch.
1951 — The Iowa Supreme Court overrules its 1920 decision
and rules that the "sucker" can be prosecuted for sodomy along with
the "suckee," even though the sodomy law hasn’t changed.
1955 — The North Dakota Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man even though only an attempt had been proven.
1969 — The Oregon Criminal Law Commission, studying a
proposed new criminal code, defeats an attempt by the Oregon Attorney General
to tone down the proposed solicitation law. Attorney General Lee Johnson warns
that it is so broad that police harassment of Gay men could occur.
1973 — A California appellate court upholds the right of
a state to revoke the license of a doctor for soliciting another man for sex.
1976 — The Louisiana Supreme Court upholds a 2½-year
jail sentence of two prisoners for engaging in consensual sodomy with each
1808 — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issues a report
listing all English statutes in force in Pennsylvania. Neither the Henrican
nor Elizabethan buggery law is listed, meaning that Pennsylvania will be
dependent on its own sodomy statute to authorize prosecutions.
1914 — The Louisiana Supreme Court rules that the 1896
oral sex law "perhaps" criminalizes cunnilingus, and does
1915 — The California Supreme Court reverses the sodomy
conviction of a man for consensual relations after a landlady witnessed him
and his partner enter a bathroom together. The Court feels that the evidence
is all hearsay.
1967 — The Puerto Rico Supreme Court uses religious
references in a sodomy case and decides that government knows best in these
1970 — A California appellate court reinstates the trial
of a man challenging the constitutionality of the state’s oral copulation
law, saying that a judge can not be expected to know case law.
1987 — The U.S. Court of Military Appeals upholds the
sodomy conviction of a Navy officer based on his partner’s diary
"found" by investigators.
1939 — A New York trial court judge says that to be
convicted of sodomy, one must be "homo-sexually inclined" and states
that "the natural sex instinct is for the opposite sex."
1971 — A California appellate court overturns the oral
copulation conviction of a man for sex in a restroom. It says his arrest
violated the "spirit" of a law banning two-way mirrors in restrooms.
1980 — The Massachusetts Supreme Court overturns
"lewd and lascivious conduct" convictions for solicitations at a
1890 — The Virginia Supreme Court rules that an
accusation of sodomy is the only threat not requiring fear of danger for
purposes of being accused of robbery by making a threat.
1913 — The Utah Supreme Court rules that fellatio does
not violate the state’s "crime against nature" law.
1933 — A Pennsylvania appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man after he was denied his request to strip naked in court to
show the jury that he was not physically abnormal.
1955 — Wisconsin amends its sodomy law to cover
1838 — Arkansas passes a sodomy statute, after relying on
a common-law statute for two decades. The penalty is set at 5-21 years.
1931 — The Illinois Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction after uncorroborated testimony was admitted in the trial and the
state entered evidence of a theft conviction of 13 years earlier.
1934 — A California appellate court upholds a sodomy
conviction in which there was no proof of penetration, something state law
1941 — Congress enacts a vagrancy law for the District of
Columbia, labeling as vagrant "anyone convicted of a felony loitering in
a public place" and anyone guilty of "acts of perversion for
1971 — The Florida Supreme Court strikes down the state’s
"crime against nature" law as unconstitutionally vague and
overbroad. It says that, with a constantly changing world, what is a crime
against nature today is different from what it was a hundred years ago.
1907 — The Washington Supreme Court rules that deadly
force can be used against sodomy.
1975 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rules
that the city’s law against solicitation for "lewd and immoral
purposes" is limited to solicitations for sodomy.
1980 — The New York State Court of Appeals strikes down
the state’s consensual sodomy law on sweeping grounds of privacy.
1816 — Georgia adopts a new criminal code, reinstating
sodomy as a crime after a 32-year hiatus. The penalty is compulsory life
imprisonment. The law is not enforced.
1917 — A Georgia appellate court reverses a man’s
conviction for assault to commit sodomy for soliciting another man and
touching his crotch.
1917 — A Georgia appellate court rejects the contention
of a man and woman that only people of the same sex can commit sodomy.
1955 — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturns the
sodomy conviction of a man in Guam because it was based on an information
instead of an indictment.
1978 — A Virgin Islands court upholds the
constitutionality of that territory’s sodomy law.
1991 — The New York Court of Appeals rules that sex in a
parked car on a public street does not necessarily violate the state’s
public indecency law.
1785 — The last known execution for sodomy in the United
States occurs in Pennsylvania. Joseph Ross is the victim.
1817 — Georgia reenacts its 1816 criminal code with an
identical sodomy law, and this code is enforced.
1897 — The California Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of two prisoners for a consensual act in their cell, the first such
reported case in the United States.
1978 — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rules that
touching a clothed crotch constitutes "public lewdness."
1836 — Texas adopts the common law of England, making
sodomy a capital offense.
1856 — A man in Utah records in his diary that a married
woman in Salt Lake City had been accused of trying to seduce the daughter of a
man in town.
1988 — The Oregon Court of Appeals reverses two public
indecency convictions of men looking for sex in restrooms, finding a right to
sexual privacy even outside of enclosed stalls.
2001 — Romania repeals its sodomy law.
1853 — The Oregon Territory enacts its own sodomy law.
The penalty is set at 1-5 years.
1952 — The High Commissioner for the U.S. Trust
Territories promulgates a criminal code which creates a penalty of up to 10
years for sodomy, and apparently includes oral sex.
1953 — A California appellate court upholds an oral
copulation conviction of a man even though his partner is acquitted.
1955 — The Washington Supreme Court reverses a sodomy
conviction that is based entirely on circumstantial evidence.
1970 — The Indiana Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction even though evidence of similar acts with other persons many years
before was admitted.
1972 — Ohio passes a new criminal code that makes it the
seventh state to legalize sodomy, the first to have gender-neutral sexual
assault laws, and the only state to legalize many forms of incest, such as
between two brothers, two sisters, or cousins of the same sex.
1833 — Georgia changes the wording of its sodomy law to
read "man with man or in the same unnatural manner with woman," thus
eliminating the possibility of Lesbians being prosecuted. The penalty of life
imprisonment is retained.
1917 — The North Carolina Supreme Court upholds the
sodomy conviction of a man who claims that, since he is 52 years old and a
father, he can not possibly be guilty of sodomy. The Court agrees that it is
difficult to believe, but does not question the jury’s finding.
1998 — Chile decriminalizes consensual sodomy.
1912 — A report issued by Utah’s State Board of
Insanity recommends sterilization of persons convicted of sexual crimes.
1842 — An all-male bathing party in Cincinnati is met
with "a torrent of abuse" from the public.
1982 — Two married army men are found, fully clothed, in
bed together and are accused of sex. They say they only fell on the bed while
drunk, but accept honorable discharges rather than fight the charges and
possibly receive dishonorable discharges.
1912 — In Philadelphia, Rev. Alfred Mortimer of the
Episcopal Church, is forced to resign and leaves the country because of sex
with male parishioners.
1978 — The Oregon Court of Appeals overturns the license
revocation of a physician who had been barred by the Oregon Board of Medical
Examiners from engaging in consensual sexual relations.
1935 — The Florida Supreme Court holds that a sodomy
indictment charging "the abominable and detestable crime against nature
per os" is sufficient.
1943 — A California appellate court upholds an attempted
crime against nature conviction of drunken teenagers driving around together
who, under the influence, tried sex.
1960 — An Ohio appellate court overturns a sodomy
conviction of a man who was given a lie detector test and had the test
mentioned in his trial. The court felt that this could prejudice the jury.
1962 — The Rhode Island Supreme Court rules that the
state’s "crime against nature" law includes fellatio.
1973 — The New Hampshire Supreme Court upholds the
constitutionality of that state’s sodomy law.
1984 — A Michigan appellate court upholds the gross
indecency law as applied to private, consensual sexual activity.
1804 — Ohio repeals the 1795 common-law reception
statute, making sodomy legal in the state.
1992 — The Michigan Court of Appeals rules that the state’s
laws against sodomy and "gross indecency" are constitutional as
applied to private, consensual activity among adults.
1910 — In New York, two men are convicted of sodomy after
police saw them speaking on a corner and followed them into a hotel, looking
into their room through the transom.
1959 — The New York Court of Appeals upholds the
loitering conviction of a Gay man, over the argument that there is
insufficient evidence of solicitation.
1966 — The Arizona Supreme Court reverses the conviction
of two men for sodomy because their conviction was based entirely on
1975 — The Tennessee Supreme Court urges the legislature
to reevaluate the state’s "crime against nature" law and hints
that it may be unconstitutional.
1949 — The Washington Supreme Court reverses a sodomy
conviction after the prosecutor contended that the defendant flew from San
Francisco to Spokane for an act of sodomy and then flew back.