Calendar for September
1851 — Minnesota passes its own sodomy law that does not
change the penalty and abrogates common-law crimes.
1950 — The New York Attorney General issues an opinion
that both partners in an act of oral sex are guilty under the state’s sodomy
1955 — The Washington Supreme Court rules that defense
against sodomy can include killing the perpetrator.
1971 — An Oklahoma appellate court rules that women can
be prosecuted for sodomy.
1979 — The new criminal code in New Jersey, including
repeal of the consensual sodomy law, takes effect.
1726 — A soldier and a laborer are caught in the grass of
a London park.
1822 — Florida recognizes common-law and English
statutory crimes, thus apparently making sodomy a capital crime, although a
later study of Florida law insisted that the English buggery law was not
recognized in the state, despite the law.
1976 — Guam passes a new criminal code that includes
repeal of its sodomy law.
1997 — The Virginia Court of Appeals upholds the
solicitation conviction of a man for soliciting an undercover police officer
who led him to believe that he was looking for sex.
1904 — The Panama Canal Commission adopts a criminal code
for the newly established Panama Canal Zone with a sodomy provision with a
maximum ten-year penalty.
1973 — A federal court in Pennsylvania upholds the right
of the federal government to prosecute prisoners in federal prisons for sodomy
under the Assimilative Crimes Act, but questions the constitutionality of
state laws regulating consenting adults.
1957 — George Curley, son of former Boston Mayor and
Massachusetts Governor James Curley, is arrested on a same-sex sex charge.
1968 — The Iowa Supreme Court upholds the conviction of a
prisoner for consensual sodomy with his cell mate. The prisoner was sentenced
only to concurrent time he already was serving, making it unclear why he was
1970 — Colombia reduces the penalty for consensual sodomy
from a felony to a misdemeanor.
1809 — English sailor Charles North receives 300 lashes
and 2 years of solitary confinement for "indecent liberties" with a
1849 — In Philadelphia, an investigation by the
Presbyterian Church against minister John Grant begins. He resists dismissal
for sex with men by defying the church’s investigative committee.
1878 — In India, a man dies in a mental institution six
hours after sex with another man. The autopsy showed that three feet of
intestine had been ripped from its wall.
1979 — The California Supreme Court narrows the
construction of the state’s disorderly conduct law and overrules ten
previous court decisions on its applicability, many of them that penalized
consensual same-sex intimacy.
1958 — A California appellate court overturns the
nuisance conviction of a theatre owner because of sex in the theatre.
1910 — An Ohio appellate court determines that the state’s
strangely worded 1889 sodomy law does, as apparently intended, outlaw
1957 — A mysterious sodomy prosecution begins in
Coshocton, Ohio. Ten men are arrested and prosecuted, but nine of the
prosecutions are kept out of the court records.
1976 — A California appellate court upholds the
disorderly conduct conviction of two men for kissing in their car.
1926 — The Nevada Supreme Court reverses the sodomy
conviction of a man because there was no proof of penetration.
1922 — The Colorado Supreme Court upholds a sodomy
conviction and says that it will discuss a point of error raised by the
defendant, but doesn’t. The case later needs to be clarified because of another
overlooked point in its rush to uphold the conviction.
1926 — A California appellate court upholds the crime
against nature conviction of a man for consensual sex in a car. The court
calls the act "one of the most repulsive degradations known to
1941 — The Georgia Court of Appeals upholds a sodomy
conviction even though the witness contradicts the arresting officer.
1978 — The Tennessee Supreme Court rules that a previous
crime against nature conviction can’t be used under the habitual offender
1772 — The Marquis de Sade is sentenced to death in
absentia for sodomizing a servant and is burned in effigy.
1967 — Two men in California Governor Ronald Reagan’s
cabinet are forced out of their jobs when it is discovered that they are
having an affair. When confronted with the evidence, Reagan is supposed to
have said, "My god, has government failed?"
1976 — The Louisiana Supreme Court upholds the
"crime against nature" law as applied to consensual activity.
1991 — The Nebraska Supreme Court upholds the public
indecency conviction of a man seen from the rear in a restroom by the
1973 — The Alaska Supreme Court rules that the amendment
of the state’s sodomy law in 1971 made fellatio and cunnilingus legal in the
1993 — The District of Columbia consensual sodomy law
repeal takes effect.
1786 — Pennsylvania reduces the penalty for sodomy to a
maximum of ten years in prison and requires forfeiture of estate and prohibits
1920 — A California appellate court overturns the sodomy
conviction of a man because evidence of sexual acts with others was admitted
into his trial.
1964 — A Connecticut appellate court upholds the lewdness
conviction of a man for soliciting an undercover police officer.
1965 — The Wisconsin Supreme Court rules that a sodomy
defendant recommended for "specialized treatment" can not be
sentenced to prison.
1967 — The Minnesota Supreme Court upholds the sodomy
conviction and five-year prison sentence of a man who pleaded guilty only
because police had promised him that he would receive "treatment"
instead of being sent to prison. The Court ignores the fact that police lied
to him in order to get him to plead guilty.
1978 — A Louisiana appellate court upholds the right of
the legislature to set a more severe penalty for solicitation for sodomy than
for solicitation for prostitution because sodomy is "unnatural" and
prostitution is "natural."
1810 — The Michigan Territory abrogates all English and
Northwest Territory law.
1968 — A California appellate court upholds the
disorderly conduct conviction of a man who solicited an undercover officer in
a bar and was arrested outside the bar after the officer left with him.
1807 — The Indiana Territory enacts a criminal code,
eliminating the 1795 common-law reception. The penalty for sodomy is a maximum
5 years in prison (the 3rd longest in the code), a $500 fine, and 500 lashes
(the most in the code). It also contains a curious provision allowing the
hiring out of persons convicted of certain crimes, including sodomy, as
servants. This creates the possibility of "kept boys." The new code
is signed by Governor William Henry Harrison, future President.
1876 — Hawaii permits conviction on a charge of assault
to commit sodomy if the jury is not satisfied of guilt of sodomy.
1895 — The Virginia Supreme Court reverses the sodomy
conviction of a 10-year-old boy, claiming that it was impossible for him to
have committed the act.
1955 — The Maine Supreme Court rules that masturbation
does not violate the "crime against nature" law.
1956 — The North Carolina Supreme Court rejects the
contention that the crime against nature law was repealed impliedly by a law
to protect children from sexual assaults.
1956 — The North Carolina Supreme Court upholds the right
of a trial court to correct errors in the record in a sodomy case five years
after the trial.
1984 — A Massachusetts appellate court upholds the
conviction of a man for consensual sex in a public restroom, despite overhead
1944 — A Georgia appellate court rules that drunkenness
is no defense to a charge of sodomy.
1966 — An Alabama appellate court says that a sodomy case
reminded them of "the savage horror practiced by the dwellers of ancient
Sodom from which this crime was nominally derived."
1967 — The North Carolina Supreme Court upholds a
sentence of 4-6 years in prison for consensual sodomy.
1881 — The California Supreme Court states that
"Every person of ordinary intelligence understands what the crime against
nature with a human being is."
1926 — The Oregon Supreme Court upholds the right of the
state to prosecute sodomy attempts under the general attempts statute.
1950 — The Illinois Supreme Court rejects the claim that
sodomy can be committed only by people of the same sex.
1676 — Governor Edmond Andros of New York issues an order
extending the 1665 sodomy law of New York into what now are Pennsylvania and
1905 — The Iowa Supreme Court upholds a conviction for
"an unnatural crime, which need not be named."
1974 — A Pennsylvania court upholds the state’s sodomy
law against a marital status discrimination claim.
1731 — Twenty-two men are strangled and burned for sodomy
in Faan, the Netherlands. Two die under torture. A total of 96 Gay men are
executed in the years 1730-1731, 36% of the total from 1701-1809.
1813 — In England, James Williams is entrapped by a man
he tries to pick up. A prearranged meeting had been set up and a third party
is invited as a witness to the solicitation.
1957 — An Austrian committee recommends repeal of that
nation’s sodomy law, but it will take 14 years for the repeal to happen.
1992 — The Kentucky Supreme Court strikes down the state’s
same-sex-only sodomy law both as an invasion of privacy and a denial of equal
protection of the laws. The decision declares Gay men and Lesbians to be a
"suspect classification" under the state constitution for
1845 — Illinois raises the maximum penalty for sodomy
from 10 years to life imprisonment.
1943 — The Colorado Supreme Court upholds the conviction
of a man for sodomy and for an attempt. It concedes that there was no evidence
for the attempt conviction, but says he won’t get out of prison any earlier
with that portion of his conviction overturned, so leaves it standing.
1951 — An Illinois appellate court upholds a psychopathic
offender designation on a man with a history of consensual sodomy.
1956 — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit votes 3-0 to reverse the assault conviction of a man for
touching the undercover police who encouraged him.
1957 — The Arizona Supreme Court rejects a vagueness
challenge to the sodomy law.
1965 — The Wisconsin Supreme Court denies the habeas
corpus petition of a man sent to a mental facility for sodomy without the
assistance of an attorney and who received no attorney’s help until 10 years
1979 — The Texas Court of Civil Appeals upholds the
disbarment of an attorney for consensual fellatio with another man.
1988 — The Oklahoma Court of Appeals hints that all
consensual sodomy is constitutionally protected, not just that between people
of the opposite sex. Just 15 days later, the same court decides that sexual
privacy is for heterosexuals only.
1654 — Belgian sculptor Jérome Duquesnoy is burned at
the stake for committing sodomy.
1966 — The Florida Supreme Court upholds a conviction for
attempted consensual sodomy. The Court said that the public can find out what
is illegal under the law by visiting a law library.
1972 — A Tennessee appellate court upholds the state’s
1938 — A Georgia appellate court rules that interfemoral
intercourse does not violate the state’s "crime against nature"
1942 — The California Supreme Court overturns the lewd
and lascivious act conviction of a man for fondling the crotch of his partner
because he never touched the bare skin, and the partner made inconsistent
statements in court.
1895 — The California Supreme Court overturns a sodomy
conviction because the trial judge did not submit the issue of consent to the
1975 — The New Hampshire Supreme Court rejects the claim
that the state’s sodomy law applies only to people of the same sex.