Calendar for January
New laws take effect repealing consensual sodomy laws in
Illinois (1962), Oregon (1972), Hawaii (1973), Ohio (1974), California (1976),
Guam (1978), Iowa (1978), Alaska (1980), and American Samoa (1980).
1806 — Ohio repeals its common-law reception statute.
Since it has no sodomy law, sodomy becomes legal and remains so for nearly
1992 — The Idaho Court of Appeals reaffirms a 1913
decision that a sentence of life imprisonment for private, consensual sodomy
is both permissible and constitutional.
1757 — In England, the 18-year-old son of Lord Denbigh
successfully resists an attempt to extort money from him on grounds of his
being a sodomite.
1911 — The Washington Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction over the contention that the requirement that all jurors be
taxpayers created a biased jury and after leading questions were asked.
1918 — The Louisiana Supreme Court overturns the
forfeiture of bail of a man convicted of sodomy assessed against him because
he had not appeared for trial due to an oversight.
1980 — A Michigan appellate court upholds the state’s
sodomy law against vagueness and sex-discrimination charges.
1957 — The Montana Supreme Court rules that a man
convicted of sodomy should get a new trial. He had been convicted simply
because he spent a lot of time hanging around his partner.
1919 — New York City police raid the Everard baths and
arrest 10 men for sexual activity.
1921 — The Massachusetts Supreme Court upholds the
nuisance conviction of a man for operating a Gay bath house.
1977 — A bill to reinstate sodomy as a crime in Indiana
is introduced into the House. It is defeated in a committee by a vote of 6-4.
1984 — Illinois repeals its "lewd fondling or
caress" law, more than two decades after repealing its sodomy law.
1993 — The Wisconsin Court of Appeals finds that the
solicitation and touching of an undercover police officer constitutes
"disorderly conduct" under state law.
1997 — A British tabloid accuses Conservative M.P. Jerry
Hayes with having an affair in 1991 with a then-18-year-old male. At the time,
18 was under the age of consent.
1950 — California increases the maximum penalty for
sodomy from 10 to 20 years.
1829 — William Maxwell is the last English sailor hanged
1876 — New Mexico passes a sodomy law with a penalty of
up to life imprisonment. Prior to this, it had relied on the English common
1957 — The American Civil Liberties Union publishes a
position paper on sodomy laws and states that it supports the existence of
1983 — A Georgia appellate court rules that accomplices’
testimony in sodomy cases needs no corroboration, even though state law
specifically requires it.
1986 — The Oklahoma Court of Appeals overturns a crime
against nature conviction for cunnilingus, because actual penetration of the
vagina had not been proven.
1957 — The Maryland Court of Appeals upholds a sodomy
conviction based on uncorroborated testimony of consenting partners.
1959 — The New York Court of Appeals upholds the
loitering conviction of a Gay man. The dissent feels that there is
insufficient evidence of solicitation, something required under the law.
1964 — The Indiana Supreme Court upholds the right of a
trial court to allow evidence of previous acts of "abnormal sexual
intercourse" to be admitted into evidence in sodomy cases.
1841 — Alabama passes its first law against sodomy, going
off the common law of England, and establishing a penalty of 2-10 years in
1868 — Colorado prohibits voting, holding office, jury
service, or giving testimony in court by anyone convicted of sodomy.
1919 — The California Supreme Court strikes down the
state’s law prohibiting fellatio and cunnilingus because the state
constitution requires all criminal laws to be understood clearly and the words
"fellatio" and "cunnilingus" are Latin words not in
1941 — The Rhode Island Supreme Court rules that being
called a "cocksucker" in a moment of heated anger is not actionable
as slander. The Court refuses to use "cocksucker" in the opinion,
instead referring to it as "a filthy term meaning coition by one man with
another per os."
1924 — A California appellate court rules that charging a
person with "an assault to commit the crime against nature" is
sufficient, because "every person of ordinary intelligence understands
what that crimes is."
1930 — The Washington Supreme Court rules that one
partner in an act of sodomy can be convicted even if the other is acquitted.
1952 — The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals
reverses the conviction of a man arrested in Franklin Square by police for
solicitation. He is the seventh arrestee in a single night by just one
officer. The Court feels that this proves entrapment.
1954 — In England, Peter Wildeblood, Michael Pitt-Rivers,
and Lord Montagu are arrested on a sodomy charge in a case in which the
government later admits that it used forged evidence. All three are political
opponents of the Churchill Administration.
1961 — The New Jersey Supreme Court suspends, until he is
"cured," an attorney who had sex with another male.
1966 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rules
that a person accused of sodomy can be convicted on the lesser charge of an
1974 — The Missouri Court of Appeals refuses to consider
sociological articles in a challenge to the state’s sodomy law.
1908 — The Massachusetts Supreme Court, in interpreting
the state’s law banning "unnatural and lascivious acts," says that
it covers "any and all" unnatural and lascivious acts, but never
defines the term.
1706 — Pennsylvania eliminates the castration penalty
from its sodomy law.
1939 — The Georgia Supreme Court rules that two women can
not be prosecuted for sodomy under state law.
1950 — The Pennsylvania Superior Court overturns a sodomy
conviction because the trial judge told the jury that "the crimes as
charged were actually committed by someone," and the appellate court
feels that this prejudiced the jury.
1962 — The North Carolina Supreme Court upholds the right
of the state to amend sodomy indictments.
1966 — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upholds the
sentence of 18 months for consensual sodomy solely because it was within the
10-year statutory maximum.
1987 — The Louisiana Supreme Court upholds the
"crime against nature" law provision covering solicitation for
compensation and rejects a discriminatory enforcement argument.
1994 — The Texas Supreme Court dismisses a sodomy law
challenge argued more than a year earlier. Three of the five members of the
majority are up for reelection in 1994, and the majority claims it cannot make
a constitutional decision on a criminal law in a civil case.
1923 — A Pennsylvania appellate court upholds the right
of trial courts to ignore state law that requires sodomy and solicitation to
be tried in separate courts and try them in the same court.
1956 — The West Virginia Attorney General issues an
opinion that cunnilingus is covered by the state’s sodomy law.
1949 — The Utah Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction, but three justices argue against criminal penalties for sodomy,
urging "treatment" instead. This is the first sodomy opinion in the
United States to refer to the Kinsey studies.
1954 — A Pennsylvania court upholds the right of a trial
court to exclude exculpatory psychiatric testimony from sodomy trials.
1966 — The North Carolina Supreme Court receives a sodomy
case in which the defendant claims that homosexuality is an illness, and
therefore, can not be punished as a crime. The Court does not reject the
argument, it merely ignores it.
1969 — The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the conviction of a
military personnel for sodomy.
1970 — The Texas Court of Appeals upholds the assault
conviction of a man for putting hands into a teenage male’s pants, even
though the law under which the man was prosecuted explicitly limits itself to
use of a "whip or cowhide.
1976 — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejects a
prisoner’s imaginative sodomy defense: he dreamed that the other prisoner
was a woman.
1999 — An Ohio appellate court reverses an offensive
solicitation conviction against an undercover police officer who initiated a
1892 — An Ohio newspaper reports the arrest of a man for
throwing a kettle of hot soup over his wife because she wouldn’t leave the
house so that he could "sleep with" a man he brought home.
1958 — An Ohio appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man while conceding that there is evidence that he was framed.
1958 — A Texas appellate court upholds the right of the
state to try sodomy defendants without an attorney.
1968 — The Virginia Supreme Court rules that merely
placing the mouth on a penis does not violate the state’s sodomy law.
1899 — A Pennsylvania court finds the 1879 sodomy
statute, as amended to include oral sex, unconstitutional on technical
1926 — An Ohio appellate court prohibits the introduction
of prior acts of sodomy into a trial.
1985 — A new sex offenses law repealing the consensual
sodomy law takes effect in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
1977 — The Arkansas Supreme Court rules that the drunk
tank of the local jail is a public place for sexual purposes.
1979 — The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals upholds a
"crime against nature" conviction even though the prosecuting
witness denied all accusations against the defendant.
1983 — The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the
Arkansas sodomy law against privacy and discrimination challenges.
1923 — The Virginia Supreme Court interprets the 1916
oral sex law literally and reverses the conviction of a man and woman arrested
for oral sex, saying that only people of the same sex can be prosecuted under
1949 — A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation conviction of a man over his contention that he "was just
giving the kid a blow job."
1965 — An Ohio appellate court finds unconstitutionally
vague the state’s law banning solicitation for an "unnatural sexual
1971 — A California appellate court overturns an oral
copulation conviction because the undercover police officer making the arrest
allowed himself to be fellated before making the arrest.
1989 — The Kansas Supreme Court rejects the contention
that a man convicted of sodomy was "married" to his partner, thus
blocking his prosecution under the state’s discriminatory sodomy law.
1851 — The "State of Deseret," better known as
Utah, enacts a criminal code that makes sodomy illegal only between males, and
sets the penalty at a prison term and/or fine in the discretion of the court.
1887 — Newspapers report an apparent blackmail ring in
Greenville, Ohio that leads to seven indictments and one conviction for
sodomy, but the Governor of Ohio pardons the one convicted.
1897 — The Missouri Supreme Court upholds a conviction
for assault to commit sodomy of a St. Louis police officer who attempted
sodomy with another male after threatening to arrest him unless he accompanied
him to a lumber yard, where the attempt was made.
1900 — An Ohio newspaper reports that a man was arrested
for sex with his 13-year-old male companion. Both claim that the younger
partner’s mother "gave" him to the other.
1949 — The Illinois Supreme Court overturns the contempt
citation of a man convicted of consensual sex with another man for refusing to
be interviewed by a psychiatrist under the state’s psychopathic offender
law. The trial court held him in contempt, then tried and jailed him after he
would not give in.
1995 — The Idaho Court of Appeals rules that the sodomy
law can not be applied to married couples.
1953 — Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin is arrested in
Los Angeles for sex with another man.
1915 — A California appellate court upholds the lewd and
lascivious acts conviction of a man and ponders human sexuality in a long
1952 — The Montana Supreme Court overturns a sodomy
conviction because of testimony of other alleged sexual partners of the
defendant. In addition, the only evident sex was spanking, something not
covered by the sodomy law.
1958 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rules
that charges of homosexual indecency must be corroborated more stringently
than charges of heterosexual
1966 — The Minnesota Supreme Court reverses a sodomy
conviction because the public was excluded from the trial and, in dictum,
states that a husband and wife are not immune from prosecution for sodomy.
1970 — A federal court in Texas strikes down the Texas
sodomy law as overly broad in its application but, a year later, the U.S.
Supreme Court reverses on a technicality.
1703 — In the Netherlands, a Gabriel de Berger is
sentenced to death for falsely having accused other men of soliciting him for
1887 — Fourteen-year-old William Paddock is committed to
an insane asylum in Utah for his homoerotic activities. He spends six months
there before being discharged as "not insane."
1914 — An Alabama appellate court rules that fellatio
violates the state’s "crime against nature" law.
1937 — The Minnesota Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man captured with the aid of postal inspectors. The Court also
says that the law applies to married couples.
1979 — State Senator Joseph Maressa withdraws his bill
from the New Jersey legislature to reinstate sodomy as a crime, after immense
negative public response.
1964 — The Indiana Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction after the sole corroborating witness said that he could not recall
seeing the act.
1967 — The Indiana Supreme Court upholds the
constitutionality of the state’s sodomy law.
1800 — Virginia eliminates the death penalty for sodomy
for free persons, but retains the death penalty for slaves.
1973 — A California appellate court rules that the First
Amendment does not protect the right of actors to engage in sodomy or oral
copulation for a film.
1996 — The Tennessee Court of Appeals strikes down the
state’s sodomy law on privacy grounds. The Tennessee Supreme Court declines
to review the decision and asks the Court of Appeals to publish its decision
to make it precedent.
1999 — A New York court rules that the state’s
prostitution law covers homosexual prostitution.
1909 — For the third time in 16 years, the Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals reverses a sodomy conviction for fellatio, stating that it is
not covered by the sodomy law.
1976 — The Michigan Supreme Court splits evenly, with two
justices not sitting, on the question of whether the state’s "gross
indecency" law can be applied to consenting adults.
1965 — The Maine Supreme Court rules that penetration is
an essential element in the crime of sodomy.
1977 — The Kentucky Supreme Court rules that the alleged
homosexuality of a sodomy "victim" is irrelevant under state law.
1954 — The New Mexico Supreme Court rules that emission
is not necessary to prove sodomy.
1973 — The Arkansas Supreme Court rejects a challenge to
the state’s sodomy law on the ground that it establishes religion.
1827 — Illinois enacts a law prohibiting anyone convicted
of sodomy from holding public office.
1951 — A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation conviction of a man based on police looking into the window of a
1959 — The Massachusetts Supreme Court rules that sodomy
convictions can be secured largely on circumstantial evidence.
1961 — The New Mexico House of Representatives votes
37-28 in favor of a revised criminal code that includes a repeal of the state’s
sodomy law. This is the first vote by a U.S. legislative body to repeal a
sodomy law. This bill refers to sodomitical relations as "variant sexual
practice," something unique in U.S. history.
1978 — The Louisiana Supreme Court overturns a sodomy
conviction because of testimony given in the trial trying to show that the
defendant was Gay. The Court said that whether the defendant was Gay or not
was irrelevant under the state’s sodomy law.
1729 — A Prussian baker is executed for fellating another
man who later died, according to the court, of "exhaustion."
1913 — Oregon amends its sodomy law to include any act of
"sexual perversity," thus including not only oral sex, put any other
form of erotica. The penalty also is increased from a maximum of 5 years to a
maximum of 15.