Last edited: February 14, 2005

Four File Suit to Overturn DC Sodomy Law

The Gay Blade, October 1971

District residents Richard Schaefers, Charles Hall, Warren Colision, and Tery Leigh have filed suit against D.C. police for allegedly using the local sodomy law to harass homosexuals.

The ACLU is taking the case. Its legal director said that the law is "an ominous threat … a constant invasion of privacy." As now existing, it forbids "unnatural and perverted sexual practices" and carries a fine of $1,000 or 10 years in jail.

The four, one of whom is employed by the government, ask for a court declaration that "consensual sexual conduct in the privacy of their homes" is not illegal.

Background on the article

I created that case from volunteers whom I requested, in GLF [Gay Liberation Front]. I chose not to be one of the plaintiffs myself, because I didn’t want to monopolize activism, but to let others play a role.

As I recall it, the case was not exactly as cited. We filed affidavits from each of the four, attesting to their engaging in criminal sodomy, and demanding prosecution, in order to create a test case.

The case drove the government attorneys crazy. The DC Corporation Counsel attorney had a nervous breakdown because, apparently, he sympathized with getting rid of the sodomy law, but duty called him in the opposite direction.

The case was ultimately settled by an order or agreement exempting the four plaintiffs from the DC sodomy law, but no one else. I wrote to the US Attorney asking whether that meant that the four could engage in sodomy only with each other, or each with anyone, and if the latter, what was the criminal status of the non-four partner. I never received a reply.

Frank Kameny, May 23, 2001

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