Calendar for October
1783 — The last execution for sodomy in France occurs—a
friar is broken on the wheel.
1864 — Arkansas revises its sodomy law to mandate the
death penalty for all persons.
1945 — The Colorado Supreme Court overturns a sodomy
conviction. Two sailors were accused of robbing the man tried for sodomy with
them, but were acquitted. Their robbery trial was mentioned in the other
trial, and this was considered prejudicial.
1956 — The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the
deportation of a Gay alien for exposing himself in a restroom. The concurring
opinion of Judge Jerome Frank limits his support for the deportation to the
alien’s lying about a previous conviction. Frank embarks on a remarkable
opinion raising questions about why homosexuality seems to bother people so
New laws take effect repealing consensual sodomy laws in
Connecticut (1971) and Indiana (1977).
1973 — The Maine Supreme Court overturns a sodomy
conviction because the penis had been touched, but not swallowed.
1981 — Under intense pressure from Moral Majority and
other right-wing groups, the U.S. House of Representatives vetoes the new sex
offenses law passed by the District of Columbia council, which includes repeal
of the sodomy law. This is the first time that a District law that does not
violate federal supremacy is vetoed.
1985 — An Indiana appellate court rules that an enclosed
booth in a video arcade is a "public place" for purposes of sex.
1950 — A California appellate court rules that in a
sodomy case, "consciousness of guilt" can be corroborative evidence.
It does not explain what this means.
1973 — A Tennessee appellate court rules that cunnilingus
is outlawed by the term "crime against nature."
1987 — The Minnesota Supreme Court, while conceding that
there is an unwritten right to privacy under the state constitution, denies
that it applies to sodomy for hire.
1990 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rules
that actual penetration of the vagina in an act of cunnilingus is not required
to sustain a sodomy conviction.
1905 — The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in the first case of
fellatio reported under the 1897 law, upholds the conviction and says,
"We are unwilling to soil the pages of our reports with lengthened
discussion of the loathsome subject.
1972 — The Wisconsin Supreme Court rules that the state’s
sodomy law never meant to cover married couples solely because no married
couples ever have been prosecuted under the law.
1864 — Arizona enacts its first sodomy law, going off the
common-law crimes statute, and retains a maximum sentence of life
1659 — Richard Berry is banished from Plymouth Colony,
after his third arrest on various Gay-related sex charges.
1915 — The Montana Supreme Court rules that fellatio is a
violation of the "crime against nature" law.
1964 — The U.S. District Court in North Carolina
questions the soundness of the North Carolina sodomy law and says that the
State Supreme Court was erroneous in deciding that fellatio was embraced in
the term "crime against nature," but does not decide its
1976 — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals upholds
the District of Columbia sodomy law.
1943 — An Oklahoma appellate court rejects the contention
of a man and woman that sodomy can be accomplished only between people of the
1967 — A New Mexico appellate court rules that
cunnilingus is prohibited by the state’s sodomy law.
1969 — The Georgia Supreme Court rules that the testimony
of police officers in sodomy cases does not need to be corroborated.
1940 — The Michigan Supreme Court overturns a trial court’s
sentence of a Gay man to be held in confinement in a mental institution, after
his imprisonment on a sodomy charge ends, "until this court shall judge
you cease to be a menace to public safety." The Supreme Court points out
that the judge was without authority so to act.
1964 — Presidential Assistant Walter Jenkins is arrested
in a Washington YMCA for soliciting another man. Many supporters of Senator
Goldwater try to make a big deal out of it, although Goldwater himself refuses
1969 — The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upholds the
right of the state to proceed against sodomy arrestees by using indictment
language different from the text of the sodomy law.
1975 — The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals rejects a
challenge to a sodomy conviction based on the fact the women had been excluded
systematically from the jury pool.
1976 — The Delaware Supreme Court rules that a man
convicted of sodomy 27 years earlier and pardoned is not eligible to run for
public office in the state.
1945 — The Michigan Supreme Court upholds a gross
indecency conviction even though the complaining witness had not been
1956 — The Missouri Court of Appeals overturns a sodomy
conviction because the prosecution raised the issue of the defendant’s
sexual activity with other persons.
1956 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a
consensual sodomy case from Pennsylvania.
1973 — The Arkansas Supreme Court upholds the
constitutionality of the state’s sodomy law and upholds a sentence of eight
years in prison for a private, consensual act.
1706 — English sailor James Ball is sentenced to death
for sodomy with a ship boy.
1900 — The Hawaii Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction secured by a non-unanimous jury verdict.
1958 — The Hawaii Supreme Court rules that people of the
opposite sex can be prosecuted for sodomy as well as those of the same sex.
1967 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge
to the Washington sodomy law, the first challenge based on privacy rights ever
to reach it.
1990 — The Maryland Court of Appeals rules that the state’s
sodomy and unnatural and perverted practices law are unconstitutional as
applied to people of the opposite sex, but constitutional as applied to those
of the same sex. The Court misconstrues case law history in the state to
justify its ruling.
1998 — The South African Constitutional Court strikes
down the country’s sodomy law under the new constitution.
1960 — The Virginia Supreme Court reverses the sodomy
conviction of two men that was based on the confession of only one.
1960 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to review the case
of a Gay alien being deported after conviction of a minor misdemeanor
1960 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a
consensual sodomy case from Ohio.
1972 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge
to the Maryland sodomy law.
1915 — A Delaware appellate court rules that fellatio
violates the state’s sodomy law.
1935 — A California appellate court violates both
statutory and case law in the state by sustaining an oral copulation
conviction secured by the admission of the uncorroborated testimony of an
1965 — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds an oral
copulation conviction of two men in California for sex in a restroom stall
that was enclosed and viewed from holes in the ceiling overhead.
1995 — A federal judge in Florida refuses to dismiss a
suit brought by a man arrested in a restroom for sex. The court finds that the
store may have acted in concert with police, thus creating a possible federal
civil rights issue. The court also finds that Florida’s privacy provision in
its constitution does not give right of action against private individuals.
1984 — Congress enacts a law repealing the District of
Columbia sexual assault reform law of 1981, that had included a repeal of the
District’s sodomy law.
1988 — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals clarifies
that only "consensual, heterosexual" activity is constitutionally
protected, preventing a more liberal decision of two weeks earlier from
1964 — At oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief
Justice Earl Warren demands that Mississippi strike from its brief an
allegation that civil rights defendant Aaron Henry had been arrested for sex
with another man. Warren claims that Mississippi is "poisoning the mind
of the Court and the nation."
1982 — The Maryland Court of Appeals overturns the
disorderly conduct conviction of a man who said "Fuck You" to a
police officer. The Court noted that the arrest was illegal unless the police
officer would testify that he was sexually aroused at the thought of being
fucked by another man.
2000 — The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a
trial court and upholds an Alabama law banning sex toys.
1927 — A California appellate court rules that
corroborative evidence in crime against nature and oral copulation cases can
be entirely circumstantial.
1941 — A newspaper reports that the Ohio Pardon and
Parole Commission adopted a policy the previous year of requiring all males
convicted of sex crimes to be sexually sterilized before release. The surgery
performed leaves the men permanently impotent.
1986 — The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to review the
decision of the Oklahoma Court of Appeals that the state’s sodomy law can
not be enforced constitutionally against people of the opposite sex.
1986 — The Georgia Court of Appeals upholds a sodomy
conviction even though the defendant claimed that what he was charged with
doing was "anatomically impossible." The court does not detail the
1918 — The Oregon Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction after the prosecutor made reference in the trial to the "past
glories of Greece."
1963 — The Georgia Supreme Court overrules a 1917
precedent and holds that cunnilingus is not a violation of the sodomy law.
1975 — The North Carolina Court of Appeals rules that
penetration is not necessary to complete an attempt to commit sodomy.
1998 — A federal judge strikes down Maryland’s
"unnatural and perverted practices" law on broad privacy grounds and
the state does not appeal.
1749 — North Carolina adopts the English sodomy law
1943 — The Tennessee Supreme Court rules that fellatio is
prohibited by the state’s "crime against nature" law, although the
decision is neither published nor publicized.
1958 — The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals
overturns a conviction for sodomy after the police entered without a warrant
to search the defendant’s home.
1956 — An Illinois appellate court overturns the sodomy
conviction of two men because no plea had been entered before the trial. The
court refuses to publish the text of its opinion.
1958 — A New York court overturns the disorderly conduct
charge against two men for fondling each other in a restroom, because they did
1954 — David Trago, the elected sheriff of Jackson
County, Ohio, is arrested on sodomy charges. He is a religious fundamentalist
and the father of 13 children. The first trial ends in his acquittal, but
later he is arrested again for attempting to have sex with a teenage male and
is convicted and removed from office.
1981 — An Ohio appellate court sustains the libel verdict
against Larry Hustler magazine for a satirical cartoon showing his
rival, Penthouse publisher Robert Guccione, engaged in a
1984 — The U.S. Virgin Islands repeals its sodomy law.
1964 — Judge Allen O’Connor of Connecticut is accused
of sex with a young man. He resigns and is disbarred.
1994 — A federal judge in New York follows case law in
the state and dismisses a public indecency charge against a man for sex in the
bushes. He said it couldn’t be seen by others.
1896 — The Iowa Supreme Court permits divorce on cruelty
grounds due to one spouse’s violating a sodomy statute.
1941 — South African police are called in to quiet a
disturbance at a gold mine caused by the dismissal of 122 miners for refusing
to stop dances in which boys are squeezed and kissed.
1941 — The Arkansas Supreme Court rejects the request of
a sodomy defendant to be sent to a hospital to determine his mental status.
1893 — The New Orleans Mascot features a cover
picture of their concept of two Lesbians with the heading: "Good God! The
Crimes of Sodom and Gomorrah Discounted."
1985 — The Louisiana Supreme Court upholds that part of
the crime against nature law that includes solicitation for money.
1840 — Maine makes its sodomy law gender-neutral.
1968 — The Michigan Court of Appeals upholds a
"crime against nature" conviction even though prior acts with others
were admitted into evidence.
1971 — The Nebraska Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction based entirely on circumstantial evidence.
1697 — Massachusetts' sodomy
law refers to sodomy as "contrary to the very light of nature."
1762 — English sailors Martin Billin and James Bryan are
acquitted of sodomy even though a witness testifies against them.
1880 — A medical journal publishes an article,
"Notes upon Sodomy," which claims that men who engage in sodomy have
a different type of penis from those who don’t.
1919 — The New Mexico 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.
1901 — The Illinois Supreme Court refuses to overrule its
1897 decision that fellatio violates the state’s sodomy law.
1912 — The Arizona Supreme Court rules that fellatio is
not outlawed by the term "crime against nature."
1921 — The Arkansas Supreme Court upholds the state’s
sodomy against a vagueness challenge.
1945 — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rules that the
sodomy law is not so broad as to cover kissing or shaking hands.
1956 — The Florida Supreme Court overturns a sodomy
conviction because the defendant was found guilty by a judge before he had
rested his case.
1917 — An Oklahoma appellate court rules that fellatio is
a "crime against nature."
1966 — In Columbus, a dentist begins a 3½-year battle
with the state of Ohio over consensual sodomy charges. After courts continue
to dismiss the charges, the state finally gives up its prosecution efforts in
1973 — The California Supreme Court upholds the removal
of Judge Leland Geiler for prodding a man with a dildo.
1885 — The first reported court case under the 1879
Pennsylvania fellatio statute results in a conviction being overturned and a
new trial ordered to determine if the "victim" was actually an
1949 — The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals
upholds the District’s 1948 sodomy law’s nonspecific indictment provision.
1959 — Wisconsin permits anyone convicted of consensual
sodomy to be denied a driver’s license, presumably so that they can’t
1910 — The Maine Supreme Court rules that there are no
common-law crimes in the state.
1955 — A California appellate court upholds the oral
copulation conviction of a man who tried to bribe the arresting police officer
not to arrest him.
1959 — A New York appellate court overturns the
disorderly conduct conviction of a man who thrust his erect penis at police,
because there was no breach of the peace.
1969— The Michigan Court of Appeals upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man even though the trial judge believed much of the testimony
against him was untrue.
1824 — French historian Astolphe de Custine is beaten by
soldiers he solicited. He reluctantly files charges against them.
1864 — A trial court in Utah dismisses the sodomy charge
against a man because Utah has no sodomy law. Later that day, the man,
Frederick Jones, is murdered (apparently by his partner’s father) but the
murderer is released due to a lack of witnesses.
1867 — A Cleveland newspaper reports that a man who
sexually assaulted a boy was provided only with "lodging for the
1971 — The Oregon Medical Board gives a Gay physician 10
years probation that includes never having sex and not treating any Gay or
Lesbian patients. A court later overturns these restrictions.
1649 — In Plymouth, Richard Berry accuses Teage Joanes of
having sexual relations with him. Berry admits the falseness of the charge and
1861 — Nevada recognizes common-law crimes, making sodomy
a crime with a compulsory sentence of life imprisonment.
1942 — The Nebraska Supreme Court rules that fellatio is
outlawed by the state’s law prohibiting "carnal copulation in any
opening of the body, except sexual parts."
1944 — The Arizona Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction of a man over his claims of privacy rights, the first to be raised
in the United States.
1968 — The North Carolina Supreme Court overturns a
sodomy conviction because the indictment didn’t name the "victim."
1923 — The Indiana Supreme Court rules that cunnilingus
of a female under the age of 21 is outlawed by the state’s sodomy law. The
Court considers cunnilingus to be a form of masturbation as described in the
1955 — The South Carolina Supreme Court rules that
cunnilingus does not violate the state’s "buggery" law.
1955 — The "Boys of Boise" affair begins.
Starting with the arrest of four men for sexual relations with male teenagers
who are prostitutes, it is blown into a situation in which Boise is called a
mecca where Gay men can find boys. Begun by a group of right-wing politicians
to shake the moderate political establishment, the issue is inflamed by the Idaho
Daily Statesman and Time magazine. As a result of the hysteria, a
city councilman is defeated for reelection and a West Point cadet from Idaho
is dismissed. A 1965 investigation reveals the incident to be based on
1956 — A California appellate court bans questions in an
oral copulation case as to the defendant’s sexual orientation.
1974 — A federal court upholds the constitutionality of
the Florida sodomy law.
1980 — A California appellate court upholds the
conviction of a man for masturbating in the presence of an undercover police
officer in a public restroom over the contention that, since the officer did
not appear to be offended, he should be acquitted.