Calendar for May
1909 — Pennsylvania expands its sodomy provision within
the divorce law to include acts of sodomy committed prior to marriage.
1933 — Guam gets a penal code by order of its naval
governor and sodomy and oral copulation are outlawed, copying the California
1944 — The Arizona Supreme Court upholds the state’s
law prohibiting oral sex.
1950 — California permits one year in jail in lieu of
prison for violation of the oral copulation law, presumably for consensual
1963 — The North Carolina Supreme Court overturns a
"crime against nature" conviction because the burden of proof had
been placed on the defendant.
1976 — Maine’s new criminal code, including repeal of
its consensual sodomy law, takes effect.
1990 — Oklahoma bans nursing home employment by those
convicted of sodomy, whether consensual or not.
1890 — The Oklahoma Territory is organized and it
receives all the laws of Nebraska, including its sodomy law with a penalty of
1984 — Minnesota raises the maximum fine for sodomy to
$3,000, but does not change the maximum jail term of one year.
1988 — South Carolina requires anyone convicted of
buggery to be tested for AIDS, at their expense.
1938 — A California appellate court overturns a sodomy
conviction that was obtained merely upon proof that the defendant was Gay.
1955 — A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation conviction of a man for acts with a physically disabled man, saying
"the incident was characteristic of such offenses."
1978 — The Ohio Supreme Court decides that the state’s
age of consent is not 16 as the legislature intended, but actually 15 years
and 1 day, because of the awkward language used in writing the statute.
1497 — A revolt against religious leader Savanarola in
Venice, who has been a leader against sodomy, leads one man to say,
"Thank God, now we can sodomize again."
1805 — Louisiana outlaws sodomy with a compulsory
sentence of life imprisonment at hard labor.
1885 — Ohio outlaws sodomy with a penalty of up to 20
years in prison. There is evidence that the bill was introduced solely as a
political ploy to embarrass the Governor, hinted by an opposition newspaper of
1886 — An Ohio appellate court rules that, under the
state’s 1885 sodomy law, indictments must be specific and, in dictum, that
sodomy can be accomplished only if at least one party is a male person. This
frees Lesbians from prosecution.
1943 — Puerto Rico changes its sodomy penalty from a
minimum of 5 years to a penalty of 1-10 years.
1949 — Hawaii amends its disorderly conduct law to
include "soliciting men for the purpose of committing a crime against
nature or other lewdness.
1959 — A California appellate court overturns the oral
copulation conviction of a man, rejecting every single one of 20 pieces of
1962 — The Delaware Supreme Court upholds the right of
trial courts to ignore the statutory ban on probation for sodomy.
1972 — Rhode Island enacts a law permitting compensation
for anyone killed or injured by the "crime against nature."
1722 — Pennsylvania requires registration and duty for
certain imported servants, including those convicted of sodomy.
1903 — The Kentucky Supreme Court decides that
"Every person of ordinary intelligence understands what is meant by a
charge of sodomy."
1947 — The Colorado Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction over the contention that a housekeeper testified as to the
defendant’s relationship with another man, but not the one in question.
1983 — Wisconsin repeals its sodomy law.
1987 — A Michigan appellate court, while upholding the
constitutionality of the state’s gross indecency law as applied to
consensual acts in private, nevertheless overturns the conviction of a man for
acts in a restroom due to overhead surveillance.
1993 — The District of Columbia repeals its sodomy law.
1691 — New York becomes a royal colony and the 1665
buggery law is replaced by the English buggery statute.
1897 — The California Supreme Court rules that fellatio
is not a "crime against nature."
1899 — The Vermont Supreme Court rules that sodomy is
indictable under the state’s common-law reception statute. It also says
that, since there is no specific penalty set, the penalty is left to the
discretion of the trial judge.
1942 — The New York Post reports that Senator
David Walsh (D-MA), Chair of the Senate Naval Intelligence Committee, is the
Senator mentioned as a frequenter of the New York City male brothel raided by
police earlier in the year.
1726 — A London newspaper publishes a list of Gay
1909 — The Kentucky Court of Appeals rules that the
"crime against nature" outlaws anal sex only. The Court says:
"...the word `sodomy’ is derived from the city of Sodom, where the
crime against nature had its origin, and was universally prevalent until that
city was destroyed by the wrath of God." Speaking of the defendants, the
Court says: "The acts charged against the appellees are so disgusting
that we refrain from copying the indictment in the opinion."
1975 — The Minnesota House votes in favor of a new sexual
assault law that includes a repeal of the consensual sodomy law, but the
Senate doesn’t go along.
1975 — The North Carolina Supreme Court again upholds the
constitutionality of the state’s sodomy law.
1990 — A Florida appellate court issues a puzzling
decision concerning the state’s "unnatural and lascivious act"
law, hinting that it is too vague to permit prosecution.
1763 — Police storm a lavatory in Amsterdam and arrest
two men who were kissing. Two women had turned them in. One gets death and one
gets 20 years.
1805 — King George III of England pardons sailor Bartlett
Ambler of a sodomy conviction due to the questionable veracity of his alleged
1917 — The North Dakota Supreme Court sustains a
conviction for cunnilingus under its sodomy law. This is the first conviction
for cunnilingus to be sustained on appeal in the United States.
1953 — A federal appellate court is the first to sustain
a sodomy conviction under the federal Assimilative Crimes Act of 1909 for a
male-female sexual assault committed on a naval vessel on Lake Michigan in the
territorial waters of Indiana.
1975 — A Florida court sex dismisses charges against Gay
men in the Club Miami.
1998 — The South African Supreme Court strikes down that
country’s law against sex between men.
2001 — Arizona repeals its sodomy law.
1908 — Ohio prohibits probation for anyone convicted of
1916 — The Idaho Supreme Court rules that fellatio is a
"crime against nature."
1969 — West Germany repeals its sodomy law.
1974 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals strikes
down a law prohibiting commission of a "lewd, obscene and indecent
act" in a case brought by Gay men who were arrested and had their
employers notified by police.
1909 — Pennsylvania prohibits probation for anyone
convicted of sodomy.
1954 — The Missouri Supreme Court upholds a life sentence
1962 — The California Supreme Court overturns the sodomy
conviction of a man caught by police in a public restroom by use of a peephole
drilled into the roof.
1984 — A Louisiana appellate court upholds a sentence of
4 years at hard labor for a man who solicited an undercover police officer and
for having previous convictions for the same thing.
1926 — The Wisconsin Supreme Court rules that police may
enter a home without a warrant to arrest people for sodomy if they see them
enter the home. The Court says: "To uphold defendant’s contention would
seriously embarrass the enforcement of law, and license the defendant and her
kind to continue their abominable practices under the protection of the
1983 — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rules that
placing part of your body into an adjoining booth obviates privacy rights.
1988 — The Oregon Court of Appeals decides that a
consensual act of fellatio occurring in a parked car in a driveway off a
downtown street is occurring in a private place.
1990 — An Oklahoma appellate court rules that the sodomy
law is not violated by placing a finger in the rectum.
1921 — California changes the penalty for sodomy to 1-10
1961 — A Georgia appellate court rules that the age of a
sodomy partner is irrelevant and that the defendant’s homosexuality is
1975 — California repeals its consenting adult laws,
including the laws against sodomy and oral copulation.
1976 — A federal court in Virginia suggests that the
state’s sodomy law does not apply to married couples, assuming that no third
party is present, even though there is no statutory exemption for them.
1977 — A Georgia appellate court upholds a conviction for
solicitation for sodomy for offering an undercover police officer a blowjob.
1660 — In New Netherland Colony, J.Q. van der Linde, a
married man, is tied into a sack and drowned for sodomy with an adolescent
male. Three years later his widow files for bankruptcy.
1892 — The Michigan Supreme Court rules that sodomy
convictions can be based on unverified information.
1909 — Connecticut reduces the penalty for sodomy from a
compulsory life sentence to a maximum of 30 years in prison.
1965 — The Washington Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction over the defendant’s contention that the prosecutor’s closing
remarks to the jury constituted misconduct. The defendant didn’t provide
text of the remarks, so the Court couldn’t rule on them.
1718 — New Hampshire amends its sodomy law, adopting the
1697 Massachusetts law verbatim.
1915 — Pennsylvania excludes sodomy from the list of
crimes for which the defendant is entitled to a preliminary hearing.
1918 — A Delaware appellate court rules that solicitation
to commit sodomy does not constitute an attempt to commit it.
1928 — The Nazi Party in Germany responds to a Gay rights
questionnaire with a statement of opposition to legalizing same-sex sexual
1931 — North Carolina is the third state to permit a
divorce if one spouse is convicted of the "crime against nature."
1797 — Captain Henry Allen is hanged in England for
sodomy, the only ship’s captain ever to be hanged for sodomy.
1968 — The North Carolina Supreme Court rules that sodomy
indictments must name the partner of the defendant.
1978 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge
to the North Carolina sodomy law.
1913 — Arizona passes a new criminal code and extends its
sodomy law to cover fellatio, but not cunnilingus. The code also permits a
wife to testify at her discretion either for or against her husband if he is
on trial for the "crime against nature." It also reduces the penalty
to a maximum of 5 years in prison.
1953 — The Georgia Court of Appeals rejects a civil suit
by a mother against a theatre for employing a man who had sex with her son.
1957 — The Virgin Islands outlaws oral sex.
1977 — Alabama passes a new criminal code that abrogates
common-law crimes and reduces the penalty for sodomy from a felony to a
misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to one year in jail. Married couples are
exempted from its coverage.
2000 — The Louisiana Supreme Court strikes down the state’s
law against "obscene devices," finding a constitutional right to
1820 — Michigan passes a new criminal code. The sodomy
provision lowers the penalty to a maximum of three years at solitary and hard
labor and a fine up to $300.
1884 — Congress passes a law extending all laws of Oregon
to the Alaska Territory, including Oregon’s sodomy law. For the preceding 22
years, Alaska had no criminal laws whatsoever.
1963 — Minnesota passes a new criminal code, but does not
deal with the sexual offenses section, claiming that it is too controversial
1967 — Minnesota enacts a new sex offenses law, keeping
all consenting adult laws, but reducing their penalty from felony to
1976 — Maryland passes a new sexual offenses law, but
fails to repeal its felony sodomy law. The repeal passed the Senate, but could
not get through the conservative House Judiciary Committee. All other
consenting adult laws are repealed.
1978 — The Iowa Supreme Court rules that the state’s
repealed sodomy law would have been constitutional as applied to consensual
1979 — Nevada prohibits solicitation of a minor for the
crime against nature.
1846 — Michigan raises the maximum penalty for sodomy
from 3 years to 15 years and repeals the 1841 law allowing prosecution on
proof of penetration only.
1943 — The Michigan Supreme Court overturns a trial court’s
action in denying a Gay man convicted of gross indecency a jury trial to
determine if he had recovered from his "psychopathy." The Court
points out that the jury trial was required by law.
1979 — Massachusetts bans those convicted of sodomy from
being school bus drivers.
1983 — An Ohio trial court dismisses an importuning
charge against a man who had been blatantly solicited by an undercover police
officer and responded to the solicitation.
1990 — Kansas attempts to overrule the 1989 decision of
the state’s Supreme Court that cunnilingus wasn’t a violation of the state’s
sodomy law by passing a law that covers only heterosexual cunnilingus.
1894 — Ohio repeals its "sex toys" law and
expands the ban on any instrument of an "immoral or indecent
1947 — The Colorado Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man whose love letters to another were admitted into evidence
1965 — North Carolina changes the penalty for sodomy from
5-60 years to a sentence "in the discretion of the court." The
following year the North Carolina Supreme Court determines that, due to
another law regarding unspecified penalties, the maximum that can be handed
down is 10 years.
1976 — The Iowa Supreme Court rules that the state’s
sodomy law does not apply to married couples, even though there is no
statutory exemption for them.
1981 — Iowa repeals its law requiring a coroner’s
investigation of deaths resulting from "unnatural sex" relations.
1884 — The Rhode Island Supreme Court rules that repeal
of a statute in derogation of the common law revives the common-law provision.
Since the state recognizes common-law crimes, this means that repeal of the
sodomy law will not legalize consensual sodomy.
1940 — The Mississippi Supreme Court rules that repeal of
a statute in derogation of the common law revives the common-law provision.
Since the state recognizes common-law crimes, this means that repeal of the
sodomy law will not legalize consensual sodomy.
1954 — A California appellate court upholds the
conviction of a man for oral copulation that is based only on police
1977 — Nevada passes a new criminal code that changes the
sodomy law to be applicable only to people of the same sex. It is retained as
a felony with a 1-6 year penalty.
1930 — A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation convictions of three men in Palm Springs after an investigation
into "activities" there. The court would not permit the three to
withdraw their guilty pleas.
1962 — A New York appellate court decides that the oral
sex provision of the sodomy law can not be enforced against both partners.
This decision is reversed by the State Court of Appeals.
1677 — In Connecticut, Nicholas Sension is convicted of
sodomy and sentenced only to good behavior for the rest of his life. He has
had a 30-year career of solicitations of other men, finally being brought to
trial when he outrages sensibilities one too many times.
1900 — The Louisiana Supreme Court upholds a conviction
under the 1896 oral sex clause. The Court quotes the father of the
"victim" as saying that the defendant "sucked the cock of my
son Ned until he has lost his mind."
1905 — A California appeals court overturns a sodomy
conviction because the information did not make clear that the partner, Frank
Derby, was a male. It says that Frank is a common name for women, also.
1923 — New York amends its disorderly conduct law to
include any male who "frequents or loiters about a public place
soliciting men for the purpose of committing the crime against nature."
1957 — A California appellate court upholds a conviction
for attempted sodomy of two prisoners seen kissing.
1970 — The Minnesota Supreme Court overturns the sodomy
conviction of a man after restroom surveillance from above.
1995 — The Louisiana Supreme Court overturns a trial
court’s finding that the state’s sodomy law is unconstitutional.
1925 — The Nebraska Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a doctor who engaged in sexual relations with both male and
1973 — The New Mexico Court of Appeals upholds the state’s
"crime against nature" law. Judge Lewis Sutin pleads with the
legislature to repeal it.
1977 — Tennessee enacts a new sexual assault law without
repealing consenting adult laws.
1610 — Virginia colony, via a military regulation,
outlaws sodomy with a penalty of death.
1915 — In Ohio, a man enters the State Reformatory for
sodomy after allowing himself to be masturbated by another, even though the
Ohio sodomy law does not contemplate masturbation.
1963 — A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation conviction of a man after officers listened through his door and
heard his bed moving.
1972 — The District of Columbia government announces that
it will not prosecute private, consensual sodomy.
1925 — The Arkansas Supreme Court rules that fellatio is
outlawed by the "crime against nature" law.
1943 — Massachusetts requires bail for either the
"crime against nature" or "unnatural and lascivious acts"
to be prefaced by a mental health report.
1955 — The American Law Institute publishes its model
penal code recommending the repeal of consensual sodomy laws.
1994 — Bermuda repeals its consensual sodomy law.
1864 — Congress creates the Montana Territory and makes
no provision for criminal laws, so that sodomy is legal.
1939 — Michigan extends its "gross indecency"
law of 1903 to cover sex between two women or between a man and a woman.
1891 — A jury in Utah acquits two men of sodomy with each
other despite the testimony of numerous eye witnesses.
1946 — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturns the
conviction for sodomy of a man with his 8-year-old son because of vacillating
testimony and evidence of malice of a former housekeeper who wanted the man to
have sex with her and he refused.
1963 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge
to the Rhode Island sodomy law.
1977 — Wyoming’s new sexual assault law, including
repeal of its consensual sodomy law, takes effect.
1917 — Florida passes a law, separate from its
"crime against nature" law, to outlaw "unnatural and lascivious
acts." The penalty for it is a misdemeanor.
1962 — The U.S. Supreme Court reverses a lower court
ruling that had overturned the sodomy conviction of a military officer caught
in a public restroom.
1968 — The Nevada Supreme Court upholds the state’s
"crime against nature" law against a vagueness challenge.
1976 — The Nevada Supreme Court upholds the right of the
state to introduce into evidence in "crime against nature" trials
evidence of the defendant’s masturbation in front of witnesses and
possession of a pornographic film.
1918 — Massachusetts reduces the maximum penalty for oral
sex from 3 years to 2½ years in the house of correction, but still permits 5
years in the local jail.
1953 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals upholds
an "assault" conviction of a man for placing his hands on the
private parts of an undercover police officer.
1967 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge
to the Florida sodomy law.
1668 — New Jersey passes its own sodomy law, separate
from that of New York, mandating the death penalty, and applicable only to
1854 — Congress creates the Kansas and Nebraska
Territories and makes no provision for criminal laws therein. Therefore,
sodomy is legal in them.
1973 — The Florida Supreme Court upholds the state’s
"unnatural and lascivious acts" law, declaring that the words
"unnatural and lascivious" are not vague or overbroad. Just 17
months earlier, the same court struck down the "crime against
nature" law as too vague.
1975 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rules
that a Gay bath house is a public place and any sex occurring therein is in a
1980 — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down the
state’s "voluntary deviate sexual conduct" law because it is
discriminatory against persons not married to each other.
1718 — Pennsylvania reinstates the death penalty for
1852 — Indiana abrogates common-law crimes, thus
legalizing sodomy in the state.
1879 — Missouri permits anyone accused of committing the
"infamous crime against nature" to sue for slander.
1901 — Sixteen-year-old Joseph Flaherty is committed to
an insane asylum in Utah for engaging in sodomy. He is released after eight
1951 — The Universal Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)
becomes effective and includes a sodomy provision for all members of the
1960 — The Colorado Supreme Court overturns the sodomy
conviction of two men, saying that there was no evidence the crime actually
occurred. It uses the euphemistic term "statutory offense" to
describe their crime.
1977 — Arizona passes a new criminal code that abrogates
common-law crimes and reduces the penalty for sodomy from a felony to a
misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and/or a $250 fine.
1990 — The Arizona Court of Appeals, in dictum,
contradicts the 1976 Arizona Supreme Court ruling and holds that sodomy
between married couples is not covered by the sodomy law.