Calendar for February
1816 Four English sailors aboard the Africaine
are hanged for sodomy following a major scandal. Two others are floggedone
with 200 lashes and the other is sentenced to 300, but receives only 170 when
the attending physician warns that any more would endanger his life.
1916 A California appellate court upholds the
"lewd and lascivious act" conviction of a man for having been found
on a bed "in contact" with his partner.
1955 A California appellate court upholds an oral
copulation conviction after the jury saw graffiti referring to the defendant
1964 The committee reviewing the New York criminal code
recommends repeal of the consensual sodomy law.
1809 The Illinois Territory receives the statutory law
of Indiana, adopting its harsh sodomy law.
1960 The Florida Attorney General issues an opinion
that most crimes, including sodomy, can not be prosecuted on Indian
reservations, so long as at least one of the parties to the act is an Indian.
1965 A Florida appellate court rules that a "lewd,
lascivious or indecent assault or act upon a child" is a lesser
included offense within the "crime against nature."
1859 Kansas reduces the penalty for sodomy from 10
years-life to a maximum of 10 years.
1942 The West Virginia Supreme Court rules that
emission is not required for conviction of sodomy.
1958 A New York court dismisses a disorderly conduct
charge against a Gay man, saying there was no evidence that he did anything
1960 The Ohio Supreme Court denies a habeas corpus
release from prison for sodomy. The U.S. Supreme Court later refuses to hear
1964 The New Mexico Supreme Court rules that, since the
states sodomy law prescribes only a minimum penalty, a sentence of life
imprisonment is permissible.
1864 Idaho outlaws sodomy with a maximum sentence of
1869 South Carolina abolishes the death penalty for
sodomy, but fails to include a new penalty.
1893 A Gay sex scandal begins in Denmark and later
Friedrich Hammerich, son of a prominent judge, is arrested. The press claims
that Hans Christian Andersen started a seduction chain leading to the present
1981 Rep. Jon Hinson (R-MS) resigns from the House
following an arrest for attempted sex in a public restroom with another man.
1982 Police in Kingston, Jamaica use tear gas to
disperse a crowd of 2,000 which has gathered at a hospital to see two Lesbians
in such a tight embrace that they required medical attention to be separated.
1957 The Iowa Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a farmer for fellating consenting teenagers.
1993 A Texas appellate court upholds a public indecency
conviction for masturbating in a public restroom. The police had spied the
activity through roof holes. The court finds that, because the activity could
have been seen by anyone in the restroom, the police could use the roof holes.
1907 The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rules that
juveniles are not entitled to a lesser sentence for sodomy.
1918 Two Oregon prisoners file suit against the
sterilization law. One is a Gay man convicted of sodomy. He succeeds in
convincing the Eugenics Board to change its position regarding him and the
straight prisoner decides to allow himself to be castrated.
1957 A bill to end the half-century-old ban on
probation for sodomy is introduced into the Ohio House of Representatives. It
passes committee, but never becomes law.
1991 The Maryland Court of Special Appeals rules that a
sodomy defendant can not demand an inquiry into the sex practices of his
partner to determine if he is an accomplice.
1706 Queen Anne disallows the 1700 Pennsylvania sodomy
law that included flogging and castration provisions, unaware that it had been
changed less than a month earlier.
1877 The Dakota Territory reduces the maximum penalty
for sodomy from life to 10 years.
1950 The Maine Supreme Court rules that cunnilingus is
a "crime against nature."
1966 The New Jersey Supreme Court overturns the
conviction of two prisoners for forcible sodomy on another because a third
prisoner said during the trial that all of them had engaged in sodomy with the
victim. Evidence also is presented at trial to show that the victim was the
lover of one of the defendants.
1980 The Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds the right of
police discriminatorily to enforce prostitution and solicitation laws against
1984 A Michigan appellate court upholds the
applicability of the gross indecency law to consenting adults.
1791 New Hampshire restricts its sodomy law to
male-male acts only, and retains the death penalty.
1826 Delaware lowers the penalty for sodomy from death
to 60 lashes given publicly, a $1,000 fine, and three years of solitary
confinement in prison.
1854 Texas amends its common-law reception statute to
create specific penalties for common-law crimes, thus eliminating the death
penalty for sodomy.
1949 Georgia reduces the penalty for sodomy from
compulsory life imprisonment to 1-10 years.
1960 A California appellate court upholds the
constitutionality of the states oral copulation law.
1963 The District of Columbia Court of Appeals upholds
the solicitation conviction of a man with the corroborating evidence that he
had put forth no character witnesses for himself.
1973 The Alabama Supreme Court upholds the
constitutionality of the states sodomy law.
1889 The Texas Court of Appeals reverses the conviction
of two men for consensual sodomy with a third man because he was an accomplice
and needed corroboration, even though two witnesses caught them in the act.
1948 A California appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a Catholic priest. The evidence used to convict him included
that he was unmarried (despite being a priest), that he was "known in San
Francisco," and that he stayed in a hotel with blacks.
1798 Kentucky passes its own sodomy law after six years
of living with the law of Virginia.
1831 A new criminal code in Indiana repeals the states
sodomy law, but retains the common-law crimes reception statute. This makes
sodomy a capital offense again.
1832 Florida gives juries total discretion to sentence
a sodomy (via the common-law reception law) defendant to the penitentiary or
to a fine.
1872 South Carolina passes a new criminal code, setting
the penalty at five years in prison. The code retains the term
1887 Idaho eliminates the specific reference to life
imprisonment for sodomy, but states no maximum.
1911 In Germany, the League for the Protection of
Mothers endorses repeal of the German sodomy law and opposes its extension to
cover women, calling it "a serious mistake."
1950 A Pennsylvania court convicts a man of sodomy as
an accessory before the fact for driving two teenagers to a friends house and
watching them have sex.
1779 Vermont adopts English common law, making sodomy a
1860 Texas passes a sodomy law, going off the
common-law crimes statute. The new penalty is 2-15 years.
1958 A New York appellate court overturns the
disorderly conduct conviction of a man because there was absolutely no proof
that he had loitered or solicited.
1963 Colorado restores the "crime against
nature" law to its indeterminate sentencing law.
1974 The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rules
that Gay bath houses are public nuisances per se.
1951 The Missouri Supreme Court rules that consent is
no defense to a charge of sodomy.
1992 The Oregon Court of Appeals rules that the states
public indecency law preempts local ones and that, under the controlling state
law, public nudity must be for purposes of sexual gratification in order to
trigger a violation.
1999 The Montana House defeats a bill to remove the
invalidated sodomy law from the books on a 50-50 tie.
1812 The U.S. Supreme Court rules that there are no
common-law crimes against the federal government. Since there is no federal
sodomy law, this guarantees that there can be no federal sodomy prosecutions.
1953 The New Mexico Supreme Court rules that the states
"crime against nature" law does not prohibit fellatio, which it
calls "baser than the practices of pagans." In its opinion, the
Court drafts a model law to cover such practices, recommending its adoption by
the state legislature.
1635 Two men are charged with sodomy in New Hampshire,
but are not prosecuted, because it was not thought "fit" to try them
1787 New York, which has been operating under the
English sodomy statute for nearly a century, passes its own law, retaining the
1902 A New York appellate court overturns the sodomy
conviction of a man for sex with a teenager of limited mentality whose father
coached him in what to say in trial.
1963 The Washington Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction after the "victim" was asked leading questions in the
1973 An Oklahoma appellate court upholds a sentence of
15 years in prison for consensual sodomy.
1975 Virginia passes a new criminal code, keeps
consensual sodomy as a felony, and increases the maximum penalty from three to
1839 Mississippi passes a sodomy law, doing away with
its reliance on the common law to prosecute it. The penalty is set at a
maximum of 10 years in prison.
1858 A proposed new criminal code for the District of
Columbia, which includes a sodomy law with a penalty of 2-10 years, is
defeated 73%-27% by District voters.
1893 The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, in the first
such case in the United States, rules that fellatio is not a "crime
1913 The Idaho Supreme Court rules that the states
sodomy law, with no maximum penalty established, permits a sentence of life
1967 The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rules
that police do not have to detain potential defense witnesses in public
restrooms when they arrest people for solicitation therein.
1843 The Iowa Territory passes its own criminal code
and makes no reference to sodomy or common-law crimes, keeping it legal.
1923 The Wisconsin Attorney General issues an opinion
that any person convicted of sodomy can have a professional license taken
1945 The District of Columbia Court of Appeals upholds
an "indecent assault" conviction in a case of consensual sex in the
absence of a sodomy law.
1951 The District of Columbia Court of Appeals upholds
a solicitation conviction and rejects the argument that the defendant could
not be guilty because of his honorable discharge from the military.
1968 The Maine Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction even though there are doubts as to the truthfulness of the
1972 The Maryland Court of Special Appeals rules that
the states sodomy law applies to married couples.
1755 Georgia enacts a law making it a crime to deny
that Georgian laws are in force, thus showing that English laws are not
recognized. Since Georgia has no sodomy law, this shows that the English
sodomy law was not considered in force.
1905 In Ohio, a man is sent to the State Reformatory
for sodomy even though the records state that he "proved" his
absence from the crime scene. He spends two years in the Reformatory.
1923 Utah amends its sodomy law to outlaw oral sex and
to increase the penalty to 3-20 years.
1950 Georgia repeals its ban on probation for sodomy.
1854 Alabama is the first state in the nation to make
conviction of the "crime against nature" a specific grounds for
1893 The Washington Supreme Court notes that Washington
has no sodomy law, even though it is indictable under the common-law statute.
1930 The Iowa Supreme Court upholds a sodomy conviction
despite "conflict and contradictions" in the testimony.
1937 Vermont outlaws oral sex, which the statute calls
1957 The Arkansas Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man committed on a blind boy of borderline intelligence, after
the trial judge determined him competent to testify because "he believes
in God" and had the Bible read to him.
1821 Maine enacts a new sodomy law. It retains the
male-only provision of the Massachusetts statute, but sets a one-year minimum
1926 A California appellate court upholds a sodomy
conviction based on photographs without any relationship to the case found in
the defendants vest.
1775 In Frisia, the Netherlands, two teenage servants
are banished for three years for "toleration of sodomy."
1852 Delaware eliminates the flogging penalty for
sodomy and substitutes time in the pillory before imprisonment.
1939 The Indiana Supreme Court rejects the contention
of a man and woman convicted of sodomy that oral sex only between people of
the same sex is sodomy.
1959 The Idaho Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of Gordon Larsen, one of the Boise victims, despite inflammatory
remarks by prosecutors at his trial. The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to review
1973 The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rejects
a First Amendment challenge to Gay men soliciting for sex.
1974 A California appellate court rejects a challenge
to the constitutionality of the states oral copulation law.
1788 New York amends its sodomy law to also require the
forfeiture of estate of convicted sodomites.
1903 New York City police raid the Ariston baths and
arrest 26 men for sexual activity. The others in the place are released with a
warning and made to leave the building passing through a jeering crowd that
1947 A New York court upholds the conviction of a man
for public indecency for sending a young man a letter stating his desire to
fuck him. A month later, another court frees him because there was actually no
law against what he did.
1963 American Samoa passes a sodomy law, basing it on
the Georgia law, so that two women can not be prosecuted under it.
1963 The District of Columbia Court of Appeals upholds
another solicitation conviction of a man with the corroborating evidence that
he had put forth no character witnesses for himself.
1975 The Washington Court of Appeals rejects a
defendants contention that fellatio was not a violation of the states
1861 North Carolina amends its sodomy law to eliminate
the need to prove emission of semen, but retains the death penalty.
1972 The Missouri Supreme Court upholds that states
1973 The California Supreme Court overturns public
restroom sodomy convictions because of police surveillance from above in a
1921 The Washington Supreme Court denies the right of
defendants in sodomy cases to challenge the morality of the prosecuting
1966 The Maine Supreme Court upholds the
constitutionality of the states sodomy law, but overturns the conviction of
an openly Gay man because of prejudicial remarks of the prosecutor.
1966 The Louisiana Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction even though a witness not connected to the case was permitted to
1983 The New York Court of Appeals strikes down the
states loitering law in a case brought by a Gay man.
1989 A Michigan appellate court overturns a gross
indecency charge against a man for fondling an undercover police officers
clothed crotch area and refuses to follow case law in the state by limiting
the scope of the law to nonconsensual acts.
1863 The Arizona Territory receives the laws of New
Mexico, which includes its common-law reception statute, making sodomy a crime
punishable by life imprisonment.
1938 A California appellate court upholds an oral
copulation conviction of a man in a hotel after naval investigators listened
in and heard his bed squeaking.
1975 The Louisiana Supreme Court upholds the
constitutionality of that states sodomy law.
1784 Georgia passes a new law adopting English statutes
and common law. A survey of what statutes had been adopted by this law
revealed that it did not include the buggery statute, making sodomy
legal in Georgia.
1914 The North Carolina Supreme Court rules that
fellatio violates the states "crime against nature" law.
1976 Indiana passes a new criminal code that repeals
its sodomy law.
1983 The Rhode Island Supreme Court rules that the
enactment of a comprehensive sexual assault reform law did not impliedly
repeal the crime against nature law.
1897 An all-male house of prostitution is raided in
Eureka, Utah. The owner and three prostitutes are arrested.
1915 Nevada enacts a broadly worded vagrancy law that
prohibits only males from being out late at night for purposes of lewd or
1943 Oklahoma outlaws solicitation for a sexual act.
1955 Wyoming raises the maximum penalty for sodomy from
5 years to 10 years.
1986 The Oklahoma Court of Appeals rules that the states
crime against nature law can not be constitutionally applied to people of the
opposite sex, but makes no ruling on the same sex, since it was not at issue
in the case.
1801 Congress passes a criminal code for the District
of Columbia by incorporating the laws of Maryland into that part of the
District ceded by Maryland and the laws of Virginia into that part ceded by
Virginia. Slaves in both portions get the death penalty, but free persons get
imprisonment, and a flogging in the Maryland portion.
1931 The Michigan Supreme Court overturns a gross
indecency conviction because other acts with other partners were admitted as
1976 South Dakota passes a new criminal code that
repeals its sodomy law.
1977 Wyoming repeals its sodomy law in a sexual
1799 The Mississippi Territorys first criminal code
contains no mention either of sodomy or common-law crimes.
1894 The Massachusetts Supreme Court rules that sodomy
indictments do not have to be specific.
1994 The Louisiana Supreme Court rules that
solicitation for sodomy without an offer of compensation does not constitute
an attempt to commit sodomy.
1936 A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation conviction of a man with a 12½-year-old boy with a high IQ and who
already was experienced at procuring.
1956 A Texas appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction a man after prosecutors asked witnesses if they knew the defendant
had 30 previous arrests.