Calendar for November
1890 — Mississippi adopts a new constitution which
permits the exclusion of the public from trials of those accused of the
"crime against nature."
1897 — The Illinois Supreme Court is the first to rule
that fellatio constitutes the "crime against nature."
1937 — The Mississippi Supreme Court rules that
cunnilingus does not violate the state’s "crime against nature"
1974 — The Massachusetts Supreme Court strikes down as
unconstitutional the state’s unnatural and lascivious acts law. It says that
the law can not be applied to private, non-commercial sexual activity between
1909 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals reverses
the vagrancy conviction of a man who had solicited a police officer for oral
sex. It says a single immoral act does not constitute vagrancy.
1947 — In Chicago, the Humboldt Elementary School is
investigated for widespread sodomy among the students.
1966 — The North Carolina Supreme Court rules that the
state’s 1965 sodomy law revision that stated no penalty is controlled by
another state law setting a maximum penalty of 10 years for crimes for which
no penalty is set.
1916 — A California appellate court reverses the
conviction of a man for fellatio, because the word "fellatio" in his
indictment was not an English word in general knowledge.
1939 — The Maine Supreme Court rules that consent is no
defense to a sodomy charge.
1967 — The Minnesota Supreme Court rejects the habeas
corpus petition of a man in prison for 9 years for sodomy. He claims the
public defender made unspecified "promises" to induce him to plead
1983 — The Hawaii Supreme Court rules that the state’s
broadly worded privacy amendment to the state constitution is actually very
narrow in focus, covering only the so-called "fundamental rights" as
enunciated by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Hawaii court specifically says that
it does not protect sodomy as a right.
1816 — The Michigan Territory adopts a new criminal code
that outlaws sodomy with a penalty of up to 21 years at solitary and hard
labor and a fine.
1835 — Massachusetts makes its "crime against
nature" law gender-neutral, but retains the severe 20-years-in-prison
1893 — The West Virginia 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.
1898 — The Hawaii Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction after a non-unanimous jury verdict and upon uncorroborated
testimony of an accomplice.
1913 — Oregon voters defeat a proposed law to sterilize
"sexual perverts" by a 56%-44% margin.
1968 — The Arizona Supreme Court makes its third
rejection of a vagueness challenge to the state’s sodomy law.
1985 — The U.S. Supreme Court announces that it will hear
Georgia’s appeal of the Eleventh Circuit’s striking of Georgia’s sodomy
law. The initial vote in October is 7-2 against hearing the appeal, which
would have left the striking of the law standing. Ultraconservative Justices
Byron White and William Rehnquist are the only two wanting to hear the case.
Then, liberals William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall change their votes to
hear the case, wanting to use it as a vehicle to expand privacy rights. That
makes it 5-4 against hearing the case, which still will put it on the docket,
since it takes only four votes to hear a case. Then, Brennan decides that the
court’s conservative majority would vote to uphold the law, so he switches
against hearing the case, making it 6-3, so that the case would not be heard.
Then, reactionary Chief Justice Warren Burger changes his vote to hear the
case, making it 5-4 against, again putting the case on the court’s docket.
Pressure then is put on Thurgood Marshall to change his vote, but is not
successful because he does not want to be seen as parroting Brennan. As a
result, four justices voted to hear the case, putting it on the court’s
1861 — Colorado passes its first criminal code and makes
sodomy a crime with a compulsory sentence of life imprisonment.
1973 — The U.S. Supreme Court rules, in a case from
Florida, that the term "crime against nature" is not vague and
1973 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge
to the Oklahoma sodomy law.
1829 — Florida reinstates common-law crimes, but with a
set penalty of up to one year in prison and a $500 fine.
1967 — The Indiana Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction while conceding that the prosecutor was
"overenthusiastic" and "overzealous."
1948 — A New York City radio show has a panel discussing
a letter received from a man entrapped into soliciting him for sex. This is
the first time the show dedicates an entire program to one issue.
1955 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge
to the Oklahoma crime against nature law, brought by a man convicted of
consensual relations with another man.
1966 — The Louisiana Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
convictions of two women for engaging in cunnilingus.
1969 — The Oregon Court of Appeals upholds a sodomy
conviction despite prejudicial remarks of the prosecutor.
1912 — The Michigan Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction despite possible prejudice against the defendant.
1944 — The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a
lower court and orders an investigation of an Indiana man’s claim of false
imprisonment on sodomy charges.
1961 — The North Carolina Supreme Court rules that
penetration must be proven to convict for sodomy.
1674 — After the English take final control of what is
now New York, the 1665 sodomy law takes effect.
1906 — A California appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man not told of his court date to be held just five weeks
1960 — Massachusetts bans parole for those convicted of
the "crime against nature" or its attempt, but not "unnatural
and lascivious acts.
1977 — The Massachusetts Supreme Court overturns a
conviction for sex in a theatre cubicle, saying that the jury should have been
given the option to decide if a theatre cubicle was a public place.
1995 — A Louisiana appellate court rules that a man can
not recover damages from a dentist for consensual sexual relations with him
1841 — A Pennsylvania court dismisses a sodomy charge
brought against the curator of the Chinatown Museum brought by an apparent
ex-amour who has extorted money from him.
1923 — The New Jersey Supreme Court upholds the
"private lewdness" conviction of two men for consensual sex with
1976 — The California Supreme Court rules that a person
tried under the repealed consenting adult laws can not be sentenced if the
conviction was not final at the time of the repeal.
1978 — The Nevada Supreme Court rules that sodomy can be
accomplished by merely licking a penis, without any penetration.
1901 — The new Alabama constitution specifically denies
the right to vote to anyone convicted of the "crime against nature."
1875 — Washington Territory enacts a vagrancy law
covering "disorderly persons." Since there is no sodomy law in the
territory, this is the only law that can cover acts of sodomy.
1947 — A New York appellate court overturns the sodomy
conviction of a "man of education and culture" accused by a mentally
retarded vagrant, thus showing class bias.
1952 — A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation conviction of two men caught in a car and seen by police looking in
with a flashlight.
1973 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals
overturns the solicitation conviction of a man because of gross misconduct by
the trial judge.
1759 — In the Netherlands, minister Andreas Klink is
banished for life for having committed sodomy. He defends his attractions as
1912 — The North Carolina Supreme Court upholds the right
of juries to return verdicts of attempt to commit sodomy rather than for the
1914 — A California appellate court reverses a sodomy
conviction for having "carnal knowledge" of Frank Love. It says that
the term "carnal knowledge" can exist only between people of the
1954 — The Kansas Supreme Court rules that solicitation
to commit sodomy is not an attempt to commit it.
1957 — A Texas appellate court upholds a sodomy
conviction even though the facts of the case show that the arresting officer
could not have seen what he claimed to see in the dark from a great distance.
1910 — The Louisiana Supreme Court rules that the
"crime against nature" and "sodomy" are synonymous terms.
1917 — A Georgia appellate court rules that cunnilingus
performed by a male violates the state’s sodomy law.
1934 — A California appellate court upholds an oral
copulation conviction over the defendant’s contention of "inherent
improbability" of the trial testimony.
1955 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge
to the Ohio sodomy law.
1957 — The Church of England Assembly endorses the
Wolfenden Report that recommended decriminalizing consensual sodomy.
1960 — A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation conviction of two men in a restroom stall. A busybody looked under
1966 — The Maine Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction, despite the admission of conflicting testimony, and after
admission of "pornographic" photos owned by the defendant.
1995 — The Austrian Parliament defeats a bill to lower
the age of consent for homosexual sex to the same as heterosexual sex.
1636 — Plymouth colony outlaws consensual sodomy with a
penalty of death.
1912 — Portland newspapers report what becomes known as
the "Vice Clique Scandal." Some 68 men are involved in prosecutions
for private, consensual sexual relations.
1935 — Oregon adopts a new sterilization law and requires
names of all known "sexual perverts" in the state to be turned over
to the Board of Eugenics.
1950 — The Puerto Rico Supreme Court rules that emission
is not necessary for a conviction of sodomy.
1880 — The Ohio Supreme Court affirms its 1876 decision
that a man accused of sodomy by another can not sue for slander, but asks the
legislature to change that by either outlawing sodomy or making its accusation
1889 — The Cleveland Street Scandal in England breaks.
The Cleveland Street brothel provides teenage boys for many prominent and
affluent London men.
1897 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rules
that common-law crimes are recognized in the District, even without a statute
receiving them. This effectively reinstates sodomy as a crime, since there is
no sodomy statute under District law, and makes sodomy a crime throughout the
1938 — The Montana Supreme Court overturns a sodomy
conviction based on the fact that a young man and his alleged lover live near
each other (and move to stay close when the other moves), hang around
together, and are found by police sleeping in the same bedroom—in separate
beds. The Court warns of the dangers of basing convictions on such
1944 — The Washington Supreme Court overturns a sodomy
conviction because the state was able to prove only an attempt.
1955 — A Pennsylvania appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man after prejudicial remarks were made by the prosecutor to
1967 — A Michigan appellate court rejects the contention
of a man and woman that the "crime against nature" can be committed
only by people of the same sex.
1977 — The Texas Court of Appeals overturns the public
lewdness conviction of a Gay man, because his acts never were specified.
1999 — The Rhode Island Supreme Court rules that all
pending consensual sodomy prosecutions at the time of the 1998 legislative
repeal must be abandoned.
1715 — North Carolina adopts all laws of England, making
the buggery statute operative.
1960 — A county bar association in Ohio files charges
against an attorney for misrepresenting a client arrested for sodomy. The Ohio
Supreme Court disbars the attorney and refuses to reinstate him in 1967.
1975 — The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Tennessee
"crime against nature" law.
1980 — The Rhode Island Supreme Court affirms that
cunnilingus is a "crime against nature."
1910 — The South Dakota Supreme Court rules that the
state’s "crime against nature" law outlaws fellatio.
1919 — A California appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man and rejects his contention that his partner’s incestuous
relationship with his brother should have been raised to impeach his
1925 — A California appellate court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man after photos and condoms found in his home were admitted
into evidence against him.
1932 — A California appellate court rules that a trial
judge need not visit the scene of the alleged act of sodomy.
1953 — The Illinois Supreme Court upholds a conviction
for keeping a house of ill fame—a Gay bath house.
1925 — The Nebraska Supreme Court reverses the sodomy
conviction of a man that was based solely on the deathbed declaration of a
syphilis victim that he got syphilis from the defendant.
1959 — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit votes 3-0 to order the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
to furnish an attorney to a man charged with solicitation and appealing his
1940 — The Maryland Attorney General issues another
opinion backing up the 1918 opinion that sodomy is an "infamous
crime" that would bar someone from military service.
1951 — The Georgia Attorney General lists sodomy as an
"offense against the family."
1973 — A California appellate court upholds the dismissal
of a teacher acquitted of oral copulation. Both the California and
United States Supreme Courts refuse to review the decision.
1922 — The Iowa Supreme Court upholds a sodomy conviction
even though it felt trial questions were leading.
1984 — The Minnesota Supreme Court rules that cunnilingus
violates the state’s sodomy law.
1995 — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upholds the
solicitation conviction of a man, partially because he was of the same sex as
the solicited undercover officer.
2000 — The Virginia Court of Appeals upholds the
solicitation convictions of 10 men for soliciting or fondling undercover
police officers while seeking sex in a public park.
1950 — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rules that two
teenagers who witnessed an act of fellatio on a third teenager were not
1961 — The Oregon Supreme Court rules that the state’s
sodomy law outlaws cunnilingus.
1967 — The Washington Supreme Court again upholds the
right of the state to convict sodomy defendants based on the uncorroborated
testimony of an accomplice.
1828 — Florida repeals its common-law reception statute,
thus legalizing sodomy.
1943 — The Indiana Supreme Court upholds a conviction for
attempted sodomy of a man who made repeated attempts to seduce a male
teenager, and the teenager had police arrest the man.
1977 — Wisconsin enacts a new criminal code that reduces
the penalty for sodomy from a felony to a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty
of 9 months in jail.
1977 — An Ohio court dismisses an importuning charge
because the undercover police officer encouraged the solicitation.
1998 — Reversing a 1996 decision, the Georgia Supreme
Court strikes down the state’s sodomy law on broad privacy grounds.
1982 — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturns the
lewdness conviction of a man for dropping to his knees during a dance and
kissing the clothed crotch of another man.
1120 — The sinking of the "White Ship" kills
the sons of England’s King Henry I. A writer claims they died as
punishment for sodomy.
1953 — The Montana Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction over protests of the prosecutor’s statements. The court reporter
did not record them all, thus removing them from review.
1964 — The North Carolina Supreme Court rules that a
sodomy indictment merely stating that the defendant "committed the
abominable and detestable crime against nature" with a named male person
1968 — The Michigan Court of Appeals upholds the
constitutionality of the state’s sodomy law.
1980 — The Kentucky Supreme Court rules that
circumstantial evidence can be used to prove penetration in sodomy cases.
1861 — Nevada passes its first criminal code and retains
the life sentence for sodomy.
1958 — The British House of Commons debates, but shelves,
the Wolfenden Report.
1700 — Pennsylvania raises the penalty for sodomy to life
imprisonment for whites and death for blacks. In addition, whites can be
flogged every three months during the first year of confinement and, if
married, castrated and automatically divorced.
1911 — The Washington Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction even though a witness gave contradictory and admittedly untrue
1956 — A California appellate court says that violations
of the oral copulation law automatically make the defendant a vagrant as well.
1956 — The California Attorney General issues an opinion
that the oral copulation law permits a jail sentence of less than a year, but
that the crime against nature law does not.
1996 — The Austrian Parliament defeats, on a tie vote, a
bill to lower the age of consent for sexual relations between men to the same
age as between women or between a man and a woman.
1951 —The Oklahoma Court of Appeals upholds a consensual
sodomy conviction and refers to Washington Confidential as proof that
homosexuality is overrunning the nation.
1876 — Utah outlaws sodomy.
1967 — A California appellate court rejects a privacy
argument and upholds the constitutionality of the state’s "oral
1898 — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upholds the
"crime against nature" conviction of a man called "a raging,
1915 — The Missouri Supreme Court rules that fellatio
violates the state’s amended sodomy law.
1959 — A Pennsylvania court rules that placing a mouth on
a penis without allowing the penis to penetrate the mouth does not violate the
state’s sodomy law.
1967 — The New Hampshire Supreme Court rejects a claim
that fellatio does not violate the state’s "unnatural and lascivious
2000 — England equalizes its age of consent for Gay male
sex with that of Lesbian and heterosexual activity.