Calendar for March
1642 — In Plymouth, Edward Michell and Edward Preston are
found guilty of "lewd and sodomitical practices" for engaging in
frottage. Both are flogged.
1656 — New Haven Colony makes sexual relations between
women a capital offense. This is the only of the English colonies to do so.
1665 — After a temporary takeover of New Netherland by
the English, the governor of what is now called New York issues a proclamation
making sodomy a capital crime. The law also covers New Jersey.
1780 — Pennsylvania eliminates the discrimination in its
sodomy law between whites and blacks.
1902 — Puerto Rico passes its first criminal code as a
U.S. possession. It outlaws sodomy with a possible life sentence and abrogates
1955 — The Arizona Supreme Court upholds a sentence of
60-100 years in prison for 20 counts of consensual sodomy.
1965 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge
to the Louisiana sodomy law.
1969 — Jim Morrison is arrested in Miami for obscenity
after his on-stage performance of pretending to fellate his guitarist, and
then allegedly exposing himself to the audience.
1799 — Congress adopts a law to "suppress all
dissolute, immoral, and disorderly practices" on Naval ships.
1853 — The Washington Territory is created and given all
laws of Oregon. Since Oregon doesn’t have a sodomy law, Washington doesn’t
get one, either.
1895 — The legal case of Oscar Wilde begins with the
arrest of the Marquess of Queensberry on criminal libel charges for having
accused Wilde of being a sodomite. Through three trials the truth of the
charge comes out and Wilde is convicted of "gross indecency" and
sent to prison for two years.
1931 — An Ohio appellate court upholds a sodomy
conviction based on the "overwhelming" evidence of guilt: the
accused placed his hand on his head, asked for water, and began perspiring.
1943 — The Florida Supreme Court upholds a cunnilingus
conviction under the crime against nature law.
1955 — Arkansas lowers the minimum penalty for sodomy
from 5 years to one year. The law is passed as an emergency measure with the
emergency clause stating that juries have been unwilling to convict under such
a severe law.
1965 — The Florida Court of Appeals overturns a sodomy
conviction because the defendant’s dishonorable discharge for being Gay was
raised in the trial to bias the jury.
1967 — The Washington Supreme Court upholds the
constitutionality of the state’s sodomy law, saying that the law is
necessary for the public welfare.
1982 — The Texas Court of Appeals overturns the lewdness
conviction of a man for being fondled by another.
1785 — Massachusetts revises its sodomy law and rewords
it so that it applies only to two males.
1849 — The Minnesota Territory is created and receives
all the laws of Wisconsin, setting the sodomy penalty at 1-5 years.
1886 — New York amends its sodomy law to include oral
1901 — The District of Columbia receives a new criminal
code from Congress. Sodomy is not mentioned, but common-law crimes
specifically are recognized, with a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and/or
a $1,000 fine.
1973 — Two California police officers have a shootout in
a restroom after one attempts to arrest the other for "an act of oral
1975 — Arkansas passes a new criminal code that repeals
the state’s sodomy law, making it the first state in the South to do so. The
repeal doesn’t last; the law is reinstated two years later.
1903 — In a prosecution for consensual sodomy in New
York, two men are listed in the indictment as having assaulted each other.
1904 — The Georgia Supreme Court interprets the state’s
"crime against nature" law to include fellatio. It claims that the
reason for the 1817 English case with the opposite conclusion was that
fellatio "was not known to the law then.
1909 — Congress passes the Assimilative Crimes Act which
makes any act done on federal property within a state a federal crime if the
state has a law against it. This makes sodomy a crime only on federal property
located within states.
1955 — New Mexico amends its "crime against
nature" law to cover oral sex.
1996 — The California Supreme Court rules that Gay men
selectively prosecuted for solicitation can challenge their prosecution.
1842 — Florida passes a sodomy law with a mandatory
sentence of death.
1904 — In Ohio, a man is sent to the State Reformatory
for being the victim of a sexual assault. He spends two years there.
1927 — A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation conviction of a gas station operator who violently resisted arrest.
1954 — A new criminal code in Greenland decriminalizes
consensual sodomy, but creates a discriminatory age of consent.
1957 — The West Virginia Supreme Court reverses a sodomy
conviction for committing cunnilingus because of lack of proof of actual
1970 — A federal court in Tennessee upholds the state’s
crime against nature law solely because it was unaware of any other court that
had struck one down, even though courts in Alaska and Texas had.
1971 — A New Mexico appellate court upholds a sentence of
life imprisonment for sodomy under the state’s Indeterminate Sentencing Act.
1985 — The North Carolina Court of Appeals upholds that
state’s loitering law and rejects a claim that it discriminates in favor
of Gay men.
1649 — Mary Hammon and Sara Norman of Plymouth are tried
for "lewd and unclean practices with one another." Hammon is
acquitted, but Norman is convicted. Norman is required to "make public
acknowledgement of her unchaste behavior."
1717 — The English sodomy law is interpreted by a court
to include heterosexual activity.
1852 — The Utah Territory passes a criminal code without
a sodomy law, thus legalizing it.
1928 — The Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds the right of
the state to obtain sodomy convictions based on the uncorroborated testimony
1811 — Ensign John Hepburn and drummer Thomas White are
hanged for consensual sodomy by the English Navy before "a vast concourse
of spectators" including nobles.
1899 — New Hampshire amends its sodomy law to prohibit
all "unnatural and lascivious acts," to include oral sex.
1921 — The Washington Supreme Court overturns an earlier
decision and rules that an "attempt" to commit sodomy necessarily
constitutes an "assault" to commit it.
1934 — The Soviet Union reinstates consensual sodomy as a
crime, with a penalty of up to five years in prison, if with consent, and
eight years at hard labor, if without.
1945 — A Georgia appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man whose lead counsel was ill and absent from the trial for a
1969 — Utah lowers the penalty for sodomy from a felony
to a misdemeanor.
1972 — Due to Mormon Church pressure, the Idaho
legislature repeals the state’s 1971 criminal code revision, effective April
1, but passes no replacement code at this time, leaving the legislature to
work against the clock to pass a new code.
1973 — Utah passes a new criminal code. It retains the
misdemeanor sodomy law, but exempts married couples from its coverage.
1990 — The Georgia Supreme Court rejects an argument of
selective enforcement of the state’s sodomy law.
1893 — Just 19 days after the Washington Supreme Court
pointed out the lack of a sodomy law, the Washington legislature passes a
specific sodomy law. Governor John Harte McGraw allows it to become law
without his signature. The penalty is set at 10-14 years.
1904 — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturns a
sodomy conviction because penetration had not been proven.
1954 — The U.S. District Court in the District of
Columbia upholds a sodomy conviction after holding the defendant’s
post-arrest silence against him.
1956 — Georgia prohibits parole to anyone convicted of
sodomy who has any "mental, moral or physical impairment which would
render release unadvisable."
1972 — The Montana Constitutional Convention defeats a
proposal to protect consenting adult sexual activity in the Bill of Rights by
a vote of 69-16, with 15 not voting. The purpose of the measure is to prohibit
criminal prosecution of consenting homosexuals.
1981 — A Maryland appellate court upholds the right of
the prosecution to introduce a 25-year-old sodomy conviction against a
defendant for purposes of impeaching credibility.
1778 — Lieutenant Frederick Enslin is drummed out of the
army for attempted sodomy on a fellow soldier. His commanding officer is
1845 — Florida prohibits anyone convicted of sodomy from
being a witness in a trial, even though the state has a compulsory death
penalty, meaning that anyone convicted isn’t likely to be around to testify.
1910 — The Nebraska Supreme Court rules that the
"crime against nature" does not include oral sex.
1938 — A California appellate court rules that
intoxication is no defense to a charge of sodomy.
1958 — The Montana Supreme Court overturns a sodomy
conviction because penetration had not been proven.
1976 — The Arizona Supreme Court reverses a lower court
ruling and upholds the constitutionality of the state’s sodomy law.
1647 — In England, Domingo Drago, a colonial black, is
accused of "buggery" with William Wraxall, a "boy."
1839 — Wisconsin adopts its own criminal code, and sets
the penalty for sodomy at 1-5 years, less severe than the Michigan law it had
received when organized by Congress in 1836.
1869 — A cartoon in a Vienna newspaper comments on Gay
cruising in public parks.
1903 — Pennsylvania becomes the second state to permit a
divorce if one spouse commits the "crime against nature."
1955 — The Tennessee Supreme Court reaffirms its 1943
decision that fellatio violates the state’s "crime against nature"
law, but this time publishes its opinion.
1961 — A committee of the New Mexico Senate kills the
proposed criminal code revision that would have repealed the state’s
consensual sodomy law.
1976 — West Virginia passes a new sexual offenses law and
repeals its sodomy law, although it retains common-law crimes.
1982 — Wyoming abrogates common-law crimes, five years
after repealing its sodomy law.
1994 — The Fifth Circuit rules that a priest can not
sustain invasion of privacy damages for release of a videotape of him engaging
in sexual relations with another male.
1996 — The Georgia Supreme Court upholds the
constitutionality of the state’s sodomy law.
1890 — An Ohio newspaper publicizes the suicide of a
married man who had taken another man he met in a bar back to his hotel room.
A letter in his pocket from his wife complains that she hadn’t heard from
1965 — The Minnesota Supreme Court rejects intoxication
as a sodomy defense.
1976 — The Wisconsin Supreme Court rules that the state’s
sodomy law does not apply to married couples, even though there is no
statutory exemption for them.
1944 — An Ohio appellate court rules that cunnilingus
does not violate the state’s unusually worded sodomy law. This ruling also
apparently affects Iowa, Nebraska and Texas, since they copied Ohio’s law.
1954 — Kentucky enacts a Uniform Code of Military
Justice, and it copies the federal code’s sodomy provision, the first in the
nation to include a sodomy law.
1975 — The U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania halts
surveillance of public restrooms from overhead holes without a warrant.
1848 — Virginia changes the penalty for sodomy to 1-5
years for free persons and keeps the death penalty for slaves.
1878 — Virginia raises the minimum penalty for sodomy
from 1 to 2 years.
1890 — Wyoming amends its sodomy law to prohibit
fellatio, but not cunnilingus. The maximum penalty for sodomy also is reduced
from life to 5 years.
1955 — The Colorado Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction and says the psychopathic offender law is optional with sentencing
judges. The defendant wished to be declared such, but the court said that only
"dangerous" offenders were. Despite not being "dangerous,"
he received 2-6 years in prison.
1962 — The Arizona Supreme Court upholds the fellatio
conviction of a man with a teenage male. He acknowledged being Gay and said
that the arresting police might be, too.
1963 — Nevada prohibits the release of anyone convicted
under the "crime against nature" law unless certified by
psychiatrists as not harmful to the health, safety or morals of others.
1990 — The Idaho Court of Appeals finds a privacy
interest in sex in enclosed restroom stalls.
1820 — Maine enters the Union and receives the
Massachusetts sodomy law.
1963 — A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation conviction of a man who stopped in a restroom for "relief
sexually" while "waiting to pick up his wife." He said he’d
done this several times before.
2001 — A Texas appellate court upholds that state’s
consensual sodomy law.
1679 — New Hampshire outlaws sodomy between men only,
with a sentence of death.
1805 — Massachusetts reduces the penalty for sodomy from
death to 20 years, but retains the language making the law applicable only to
1855 — Nebraska passes a criminal code, receiving all of
the laws of Iowa, which does not have a sodomy law, but also adopting all
English common-law crimes, making sodomy a capital offense in the territory.
1961 — The Maryland Court of Appeals upholds a sodomy
conviction based on an indictment for "buggery," a word not found in
the state’s criminal code.
1970 — Kentucky repeals the sodomy provision of its state
1976 — The Mississippi Supreme Court upholds the state’s
crime against nature law against a vagueness challenge.
1987 — A Louisiana appellate court upholds the
solicitation conviction of a man for placing his finger through a glory hole
in a bookstore and then placing his mouth at the hole, without saying a word.
1921 — In the Virgin Islands, the communities of St.
Thomas and St. John pass a sodomy law with a penalty of up to 10 years, thus
going off the Danish law.
1796 — New Jersey passes its first sodomy law in nearly a
century and eliminates the death penalty. The maximum sentence is set at 21
years at solitary and hard labor. The law still applies only to males.
1916 — Virginia outlaws oral sex between persons of the
same sex only, while retaining anal sex as a crime between persons regardless
1941 — A California appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man. The corroborative evidence was a tube of vaseline
"similar" to the one his partner claimed was used.
1964 — Georgia allows the reduction of felony sentences
for sodomy to a misdemeanor.
1971 — Idaho adopts a new criminal code, repealing its
sodomy law and abrogating common-law crimes. The repeal doesn’t last long
due to religious opposition.
1994 — A Florida appellate court overturns a sex
conviction for acts in closed restroom stalls, finding a right to privacy
1860 — Virginia’s new sodomy law eliminates death for
slaves, equalizing the penalty for all persons.
1895 — North Dakota becomes the eighth state to amend its
sodomy law explicitly to cover oral sex.
1925 — The Virginia Supreme Court reverses the sodomy
conviction of a man who had been found drunk in bed with his head on another
man’s stomach and with the other man’s penis in his hand.
1929 — The Florida Supreme Court rules that emission is
not needed to complete sodomy.
1973 — The New Jersey Supreme Court rules that the state’s
sodomy law can not be enforced against married couples, even though the
statute does not exempt them.
1981 — A Massachusetts appellate court dismisses a
newspaper’s suit to allow reporters to witness restroom arrests.
1835 — Missouri outlaws consensual sodomy by statute,
with a penalty of not less than 10 years and no maximum stated.
1858 — Tennessee adopts a new criminal code and changes
the wording of its sodomy law, but leaves the penalty as 5-15 years.
1905 — Delaware eliminates the pillory as a punishment
for crime. Since 1852, those convicted of sodomy have been required to stand
in the pillory for one hour prior to imprisonment.
1924 — Virginia, responding to the Virginia Supreme Court
decision of the preceding year, amends its oral sex provision of the sodomy
law to include people of the opposite sex as well.
1957 — The Illinois Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of an optometrist with a male patient after very conflicting
1979 — The North Carolina Court of Appeals rules that the
"crime against nature" law applies to heterosexuals.
1801 — New York raises the maximum penalty for sodomy
from 10 years to life imprisonment.
1804 — The Code Napoléon is introduced in France,
Belgium, Luxembourg, and Monaco, maintaining the "hands-off"
attitude of the government toward private, consensual sexual relations.
1806 — Pennsylvania denies bail to accused sodomites.
1893 — English Member of Parliament Edward Cobain is
convicted of gross indecency and is sentenced to 12 months at hard labor.
1969 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals upholds
the trial without a jury of solicitation to commit fellatio.
1909 — Washington passes a new criminal code and broadens
its sodomy law to cover oral sex, prohibits newspaper description of crimes of
sodomy, and repeals its slander law cover accusations of sodomy.
1929 — Nebraska outlaws assault to commit sodomy, with a
penalty of 2-15 years.
1653 — In New Haven Colony, six teenage males are
sentenced to be flogged for "wickedness in a filthy corrupting way with
1661 — Virginia adopts all English laws explicitly, thus
making sodomy clearly illegal.
1819 — Illinois enacts its own sodomy law, providing for
a fine and imprisonment, and retaining the flogging provision it had received
1921 — The Hawaii Supreme Court rules that emission is
not necessary for the completion of an act of sodomy.
1927 — A California appellate court upholds the
constitutionality of the 1921 law banning oral sex.
1951 — Nevada establishes a minimum penalty for the crime
against nature of one year, but retains the maximum of life imprisonment.
1953 — The Arizona Supreme Court rules that fellatio can
not be prosecuted under the crime against nature law, but must be prosecuted
under the unnatural and lascivious acts law.
1964 — The Colorado Supreme Court rules that sodomy
convictions can be based on the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice.
1995 — The Montana Senate votes 50-0 to delete a
provision from a sex offender registration bill for consensual sodomy to be
included, after overwhelming public opposition. Sponsor Senator Al Bishop
(R-Billings) calls consensual homosexual activity worse than rape.
1882 — West Virginia passes a law to raise the penalties
for various consensual sexual activities, claiming that the penalties are not
severe enough to deter immorality. Sodomy is one of the few crimes for which
the penalty is not changed.
1911 — California forbids the conviction of any person
based on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice, a law that benefits
Gay men and Lesbians prosecuted for private, consensual sodomy.
1939 — Georgia bans probation for sodomy.
1953 — A California appellate court upholds a conviction
for assault to commit oral copulation. A hitchhiker was picked up and
solicited, but he refused and was let out of the car.
1989 — Montana enacts a sex offender registration law
that covers consensual sodomy and gives a judge the power to limit the
employment opportunities of those subject to the law.
1734 — A Georgia man receives 300 lashes for sodomy in a
religious colony. No law authorizes the penalty.
1938 — A California appellate court overturns a sodomy
conviction based on hearsay evidence. The "evidence" was merely that
the defendant owned a Turkish bath where sodomy was presumed to take place.
1940 — The Indiana Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction after the trial judge refused to allow all of the defendant’s
character witnesses to testify.
1953 — The Oklahoma Court of Appeals rules that the state’s
lewdness law covers same-sex activity.
1963 — New Mexico passes a new criminal code, but does
not repeal its sodomy law. The sentence is set at 2-10 years and/or $5,000.
1993 — Idaho enacts a sex offender registration law that
includes consensual sodomy.
1796 — New York reduces the penalty for sodomy from death
to ten years in prison.
1892 — Iowa outlaws sodomy, leaving it legal only in the
District of Columbia. The law states that it will become effective upon
publication in the two Des Moines newspapers, giving the papers a veto power
over the law if they fail to print it. Both print it without delay.
1926 — The Puerto Rico Supreme Court rules that the
"crime against nature" does not have to be only between persons of
the same sex.
1991 — Montana enacts a law stating that a person’s
seeking treatment for HIV-related disease can not have that fact used as a
basis for initiating a sodomy conviction.
1874 — Illinois reduces the penalty for sodomy from life
to a maximum of 10 years in prison.
1958 — A New York court decides that loitering for sodomy
is legal if there is no attempt to breach the peace.
1959 — A California appellate court upholds the
revocation of the license of a Turkish bath for allowing sex on the premises.
The Court ridicules the defense of privacy and says that morality is more
1972 — Idaho reenacts its entire pre-1971 criminal code,
reinstating common-law crimes and the sodomy law with a penalty of up to life
1976 — Wisconsin repeals its law prohibiting the
publicizing of the names of victims of sexual crimes, including sodomy.
1954 — The Sydney Morning Herald editorializes in
favor of decriminalization of sodomy in Australia.
1960 — A New Jersey appellate court upholds the
conviction of an attorney (and McCarthy backer) for engaging in fellatio with
numerous teenage males.
1972 — The Michigan Court of Appeals again rejects the
contention that heterosexuals are exempt from the "crime against
1973 — North Dakota, in passing a new criminal code,
becomes the eighth state to repeal its sodomy law.
1973 — The North Carolina Court of Appeals upholds the
"crime against nature" law against a vagueness challenge.
1977 — Arkansas reinstates its sodomy law as a
misdemeanor and applicable only to people of the same sex. Although the vote
is overwhelming (66-2 in the House and 25-0 in the Senate), one-third of the
100-member House and 35-member Senate fail to vote.
1951 — Arizona raises the penalty for sodomy from 1-5
years to 5-20 years.
1962 — Kentucky outlaws "indecent conduct" with
a person over 15, which probably covers oral sex.
1967 — Nevada lowers its penalty for the "crime
against nature" from 1 year-life to 1-6 years.
1979 — A California appellate court upholds the right of
the state to prosecute consensual sexual relations of prisoners even though
non-prisoners have the right to consensual sex.
1995 — Pennsylvania repeals its court-voided sodomy law
15 years after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck it down.
1867 — Alaska is purchased from Russia. All Russian law
had been abrogated there five years earlier, and Congress passes no criminal
code for it, meaning that sodomy is legal.
1911 — Missouri amends its sodomy law to include oral
1922 — The Michigan Supreme Court rules that indictments
under the "gross indecency" law do not have to be specific.
1961 — The New York Court of Appeals rules that the state’s
sodomy law applies only to the partner who is "active" in fucking.
This decision is overturned by legislation.
1964 — The Louisiana Supreme Court upholds that state’s
sodomy law against a vagueness challenge.
1966 — The Oregon Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of two lovers, one of whom has cross-dressed.
1860 — Pennsylvania enacts an outlaw statute saying that
persons who flee when accused of certain crimes—including sodomy—can be
found guilty without trial.
1902 — Iowa amends its sodomy law to cover oral sex.
1972 — Vermont amends its oral sex law to eliminate the
provision for compulsory confinement in a jail.
1976 — The Florida Supreme Court reverses a conviction
for open and gross lewdness of a man who fondled another in a dark bar.
1981 — Montana adds a fine of up to $50,000 for sodomy,
but exempts paupers from paying it.