Last edited: December 18, 2004

Cox Commission Recommends Repeal of Military Sodomy Statute

Military Watchdog Group Hails Recommendation Made to Pentagon

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, May 30, 2001
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Ralls
(202) 328-3244, ext. 116

Washington DC — Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) today hailed the recommendation of a commission reviewing the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to repeal the military sodomy statute, also known as Article 125. Calling military sodomy prosecutions "arbitrary, even vindictive," the Cox Commission recommended that Congress repeal the statute and replace it with a statute governing sexual abuse similar to laws adopted by many states and in Title 18 of the United States Code. The commission published its findings today in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the UCMJ. The commission’s report is the first comprehensive review of the UCMJ since its enactment in 1951.

C. Dixon Osburn, Executive Director of SLDN, praised the commission’s recommendation. "The commission is appropriately urging Congress to step into the present and do right by our men and women in uniform. The military ‘s sodomy law is antiquated and should be repealed."

SLDN submitted comments to the commission urging it to recommend repeal of Article 125. Sharra E. Greer, SLDN’s Legal Director, represented SLDN at a public hearing held by the commission on March 13, 2001. Greer stated, "Article 125 is a throwback to English common law that has long since been abandoned by the militaries of the original NATO countries, including Great Britain, on whose law ours relies."

The commission’s recommendations have been forwarded to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who has ordered a comprehensive review of Pentagon personnel policies. The report will also be shared with the Chairman and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Committees on Armed Services and to the Code Committee on Military Justice.

The commission was sponsored by the National Institute of Military Justice in coordination with The George Washington University Law School. The members of the commission, in addition to Judge Cox, include Rear Admiral John S. Jenkins, JAGC, USN (Ret.), Senior Associate Dean at The George Washington University Law School; Professor Mary M. Cheh, also of The George Washington University Law School; Captain Guy R. Abbate, Jr., JAGC, USN (Ret.), senior instructor at the Naval Justice School; and Lieutenant Colonel Frank J. Spinner, USAF (Ret.), a private practitioner of military law.

A copy of the report is available online at

# # #

SLDN is an independent national legal aid and watchdog organization that assists men and women in the military who face witch hunts, death threats, harassment and discharge under "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass." SLDN has directly assisted more than 2,700 military members. For copies of SLDN’s Seventh Annual Report on "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass" please visit SLDN’s web site at

[Home] [News] [US Military]