Last edited: April 21, 2007



The sodomy ruling came in two parts from Hennepin County District Judge Delila Pierce. In May 2001, she ruled that the sodomy law was unconstitutional as applied to the plaintiffs before her. The State had 60 days to appeal that ruling, and did not.

The second ruling came on July 2, 2001, in which Judge Pierce certified the plaintiffs before her as a statewide class; the purported effect of this ruling is to allow her ruling to have statewide application. The State similarly had 60 days to appeal that decision, and did not.

The State has widely been seen as supportive of Judge Pierce’s rulings, though the State is in the position of theoretically having to defend its statutes.

The Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed an ethics complaint against Attorney General Mike Hatch on June 25, 2001, which had alleged he had violated professional ethics by failing to adequately defend the sodomy law; the ruling by Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz was entirely silent on the Court’s view of Judge Pierce’s rulings.

Thanks to Phil Duran of OutFront Minnesota and a plaintiff in the case for this synopsis.


609.293 Sodomy

Subdivision 1. Definition. "Sodomy" means carnally knowing any person by the anus or by or with the mouth.

Subd. 2. Repealed, 1977 c 130 s 10

Subd. 3. Repealed, 1977 c 130 s 10

Subd. 4. Repealed, 1977 c 130 s 10

Subd. 5. Consensual acts. Whoever, in cases not coming within the provisions of sections 609.342 or 609.344, voluntarily engages in or submits to an act of sodomy with another may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both.

HIST: 1967 c 507 s 4; 1977 c 130 s 4; 1984 c 628 art 3 s 11

Case Law


            1937     The Minnesota Supreme Court upholds a sodomy conviction based on letters opened by the post office, the first such situation reported in a U.S. sodomy case.

            1963     The Minnesota legislature passes a new criminal code, but fails to change any of the sex offense sections, stating that they were just too controversial to handle.




Outfront Minnesota
310 E. 38th St., Suite 204, Minneapolis, MN 55409-1337
612-822-0350 ext. 616, 800-800-0350 ext. 616

[Home] [Case Law] [History] [News] [Editorials] [Advocates]