The Rev. Francis Higginson, a preacher with a Puritan bent in the Church of England, left his parish and, in 1628, accepted an offer to join the Massachusetts Bay Company. In 1629, the Company was granted a Royal Charter to establish a “plantation” in New England, and Higginson and several of his Puritan followers were given permission to establish a colony. Higginson obtained six ships, each armed with cannons to protect against pirates.
The fleet set sail on May 1, 1629, with 350 Puritan settlers, 115 head of cattle, 41 goats and, apparently, five “beastly Sodomiticall boys.”
An entry in his diary for June 23, 1629, reads:
Tewsday the wind n:E: a fayre gale. This day we examined 5 beastly Sodomiticall boyes, which confessed their wickedness not to bee named. The fact was so fowl we reserved them to bee punished by the governor when we came to New England, who afterward sent them backe to the company to bee punished in old England, as the crime deserved.
According to the laws of England at that time the crime deserved death by hanging. But it was never documented ehat happened to those “beastly boyes” after they arrived back in not so jolly olde England.
As for Higginson his fleet was greeted in Salem, Massachusetts by a small group of settlers, led by John Endecott. In Salem there were five houses besides Endecott’s. They had no trained minister, however, so Higginson and Samuel Skelton began conducting services immediately. Higginson drew up a confession of faith
The following winter, in the general sickness that ravaged the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Higginson was attacked by a severe fever, which disabled him, and finally caused his death.
1975 – California decriminalizes same-sex acts between consenting adults. Assembly member Willie Brown and state Senator George Moscone (who will later in his career be assassinated along with LGBT civil rights great Harvey Milk in San Francisco) co-sponsor AB 489, the “Consenting Adults Bill,” which decriminalizes sexual activity between consenting adults. Governor Jerry Brown signs the bill into law on May 12, 1975, and it goes into effect January 1, 1976.
Interestingly though prior to 2003, SODOMY was not legal in California. And could not be made so while it was illegal on the Federal level. The monumental Supreme Court case, Lawrence v Texas, ruled that systematically criminalizing sodomy is unconstitutional. The case serves as a precedent, and most U.S. states responded by decriminalizing gay sex.
In 2014, California became the first state in the U.S. to officially ban the use of gay panic and transgender panic defenses in murder trials.[ Public schools are also required to teach about the history of the LGBT community and transgender students are allowed to choose the appropriate restroom or sports team that match their gender identity.
California is seen as one of the most liberal states in the U.S. in regard to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights, which have received nationwide recognition since the 1970’s
New Hampshire’s motto may be “Live Free or Die” but that wasn’t always the case.
March 16, 1680:
Legislators of New Hampshire pass the colony’s first capital laws, copied almost word for word from the Plymouth laws of 1671:
If any man lie with mankind as he lies with a woman; both of them have committed abomination; They both shall surely be put to death: unless one party were forced, or were under fourteen years of age. And all other Sodomitical filthiness shall be severely punished according to the nature of it.”
In the early Puritan colonies, the mere concept of homosexuality struck horror into the hearts of good, God-fearing men. Many thought that homosexuality was an impurity that could spread and eventually call down the fire and brimstone that was showered on Sodom and Gomorrah.
Although the laws demanded capital punishment as the penalty for adult homosexuality, many magistrates opted to hand down lighter sentences in most cases. In fact, there was only one recorded execution of a criminal of this sort. William Plaine was executed in New Haven in 1646 for the “uncleane practices” of teaching other men and boys the joys of masturbation
The Plymouth Colony Court heard a case brought against Edward Michell and Edward Preston for “lewd & sodomitical practices tending to sodomy.” The precise wording was important: sodomy itself was punishable by death, but practices which fell short of sodomy itself (which required proof of penetration and emission), were deemed merely “sodomitical” or sodomy-like. According to surviving records:
Edward Michell, for his lewd & sodomitical practices tending to sodomy with Edward Preston, and other lewd carriages with Lydia Hatch, is censured to be presently whipped at Plymouth, at the public place, and once more at Bamestable, in convenient time, in the presence of Mr. Freeman and the committees of the said town.
Edward Preston, for his lewd practices tending to sodomy with Edward Michell, and pressing John Keene thereunto (if he would have yielded), is also censured [sentenced] to be forthwith whipped at Plymouth, and once more at Bamestable (when Edward Michell is whipped), in the presence of Mr. Freeman & the committees of the same town.
John Keene, because he resisted the temptation, & used means to discover it, is appointed to stand by whilst Michell and Preston are whipped, though in some thing he was faulty.
1656: Onan You Don’t. Not In New Haven
New Haven Colony legislation was unique in the English-speaking world for mandating the death penalty for women as well as men for acts “against nature,” as well as for masturbation and anal sex among heterosexual couples. The act read as follows:
If any man lyeth with mankinde, as a man lyeth with a woman, both of them have Committed abomination, they both shall surely be put to death. Levit. 20. 13. And if any woman change the naturall use, into that which is against nature, as Rom. 1. 26. she shall be liable to the same Sentence, and punishment, or If any person, or persons, shall Commit any other kinde of unnaturall and shamefull filthines, called in Scripture the going after strange flesh, or other flesh then God alloweth, by canall knowledge of another vessel then God in nature hath appointed to becomp one flesh, whether it be by abusing the contrary part of a grown woman, or Child of either sex, or unripe vessel of a Girle, wherein the naturall use of the woman is left, which God hath ordained for the propagation of posterity, and Sodomiticall filthinesse (tending to the destruction of the race of mankind) is committed by a kind of Rape, nature being forced, though the will were inticed, every such person shall be put to death. Or if any man shall act upon himself, and in the sight of others spill his owne seed, by example, or counsel, or both, corrupting or tempting others to doe the like, which tends to the sin of Sodomy, if it be not one kind of it; or shall defile, or corrupt himself and others, by any kind of sinfull filthinesse, he shall be punished according to the nature of the offence; or if the case considered with the aggravating circumstances, shall according to the mind of God revealed in his word require it, he shall be put to death, as the Court of Magistrates shall determine.
New Haven Colony also applied the death penalty for adultery. This law remained in effect for the next ten years, until 1665 when New Haven Colony joined Connecticut and came under Connecticut law, which specified the death penalty for “man lying with man” only.
“Mehrdad Karimpour and Farid Mohammadi were both hanged in a prison in the northwestern city of Maragheh, around 310 miles away from Tehran, having been sentenced to death for ‘forced sexual intercourse between two men’. As per the Human Dignity Trust, Article 236 also provides that ‘tafkhiz’ – defined under Article 235 as ‘putting a male sex organ between the thighs/buttocks of another man’ – is punishable with 100 lashes, or the death penalty if the active party is non-Muslim and the passive party is Muslim. For women, it’s punishable with 100 lashes.”
Peter Tatchell, an longtime gay activist, told The Jerusalem Post, ‘Iran is one of a dozen Muslim-majority countries and regions that enforce Sharia law and impose the death penalty for homosexuality. The execution of these men follows a long-standing regime policy of the state-sanctioned murder of gay men, often on disputed charges after unfair trials that have been condemned by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
In February 2021, an Iranian cleric Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian claimed that the Covid-19 vaccine turns people gay, on messaging platform Telegram, to almost 210,000 followers.
According to The Jerusalem Post, Tabrizian wrote on the platform: ‘Don’t go near those who have had the COVID vaccine. They have become homosexuals.’
It is believed that between 4,000 and 6,000 gay men and women have been executed in Iran since the 1979 Revolution.
Iranian American journalist Karmel Melamed in a tweet called for ‘outrage’ from the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
1726, Germany – The man who might have been the first gay king of America was born in Berlin. Prince Heinrich of Prussia (pictured right above) was the brother of Frederick the Great who tried have him made King of America. The fledgling US even considered it during the period ruing the Article of Confederation, but, by the time the fickle prince agreed, the equally fickle American public had opted for the Constitution and a republic.
While it might seem far-fetched that a Prussian man would be accepted by the American people as their leader, it must be recalled that without the military leadership of the Prussian Baron von Steuben, our continental army would likely not have prevailed against the British.
Three of Prince Heinrich’s affairs with younger men are documented: the 17-year-old French émigré Count of Roche-Aymon, Major Christian Ludwig von Kaphengst (1743-1800) and an actor known as Blainville.
1928 – Betty Berzon (January 18, 1928 – January 24, 2006) is born. She was an American author and psychotherapist known for her work with the gay and lesbian communities. She was among the first psychotherapists to assist gay clients. After coming out as lesbian in 1968, she began providing therapy to gays and lesbians. In 1971, during a UCLA conference called “The Homosexual in America,” Berzon became the first psychotherapist in the country to come out as gay to the public. Also in 1971, she organized the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center as well as an organization of gays and lesbians within the American Psychiatric Association (the Gay Psychological Association, now known as the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues); the APA declassified homosexuality as a mental illness two years later. She is survived by Teresa DeCrescenzo, the president of Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services, whom Berzon met in 1973 and married during a mass wedding ceremony at the 1993 March on Washington.
In 2007, Ventura Place in Studio City was renamed Dr. Betty Berzon Place in her honor, making it the first street ever officially dedicated to a known lesbian in California. Also in 2007, the LGBT magazine The Advocate named Berzon one of 40 “heroes.” The Betty Berzon Papers (1928-2006) are at the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.
1936 – Rev. James Lewis Stoll (January 18, 1936 – December 8, 1994) is born. In 1969, he becomes the first ordained minister of an established denomination to come out as gay. He led the effort that convinced the Unitarian Universalist Association to pass their first gay rights resolution.
1958 – Marci Lee Bowers (born January 18, 1958) is a US gynecologist and surgeon who specializes in gender confirmation surgeries. Dr. Bowers’ practice is at the San Mateo Surgery Center in Burlingame, California. From 2003 to 2010, she practiced in the town of Trinidad, Colorado, where she had studied under Stanley Biber before his retirement. Bowers married eleven years prior to her surgery, and remains married to her female spouse.
1973 – Viewers of An American Family 12-part television documentary shown on PBS about the lives of an “average” American family, the Louds, discover that son Lance (June 26, 1951 – December 22, 2001) is living as an openly gay man in New York City. Lance was an American television personality, magazine columnist and new wave rock-n-roll performer.
Lance Loud died of liver failure as a result of hepatitis C and a co-infection with HIV in 2001. He was 50 years old.
1975, Canada – The founding conference of the Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario (CGRO) opens at Don Vale Community Center in Toronto.
1977 – In Miami, Florida: Anita Bryant, a former beauty queen, launches a nationwide crusade against gay and lesbian rights in response to Dade County’s new municipal rights ordinance forbidding housing and employment discrimination against lesbians and gay men. Accusing lesbians and gay men of corrupting the nation’s youth, Bryant dubs her crusade the “Save Our Children” campaign. Miami-Dade County commissioners passed the ordinance with a vote of 5-3. Anita Bryant vows to defeat the ordinance at the ballot box. On June 7, 1977, Bryant’s hateful promise is fulfilled. Nearly 70 percent of voters opt to repeal the ordinance.
1996 – The wedding of Ross’s ex-wife Carol and her girlfriend Susan airs on Friends. Candace Gingrich (born June 2, 1966) guest stars as the minister. Candace is an American LGBT rights activist at the Human Rights Campaign. She is the half-sister of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who is more than 20 years their senior.
1999, Zimbabwe – the first president of Zimbabwe, Canaan Sodindo Banana (5 March 1936 – 10 November 2003), already retired from the post, is convicted on 11 counts of sodomy. At the time, president Mugabe is scapegoating homosexuals as the reason for Zimbabwe’s ills. Banana serves six months of a 10-year sentence and moves to the UK for political asylum.
2004 – The L Word premieres on Showtime. The L Word is an American/Canadian co-production television drama series portraying the lives of a group of lesbians and their friends, connections, family, and lovers in the trendy Greater Los Angeles, California city of West Hollywood. The series originally ran on Showtime from January 18, 2004 to March 8, 2009, and subsequently in syndication on Logo and through on-demand services.
January 1, 1801 – Ireland was added to Great Britain by an Act of Union thus creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It also put Ireland, and today, Northern Ireland under British laws on morality and particularly homosexuality.
January 1, 1879 – E. M. Forster (1879 – 1970) is born in London. After his brilliant novel “A Passage to India” in 1924, he produced no new works. His gay novel “Maurice” was written in 1914, but not published until after his death. For 50 years his lover was a married London policeman named Bob Buckingham.
January 1, 1886 – English Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885 takes effect. “Indecencies” between adult males in private become a crime punishable by up to two years imprisonment.
January 1, 1892 – Ellis Island in New York harbor opened. Over 20 million new arrivals to America were processed until its closing in 1954. It is unknown how many of the new immigrants were gays and lesbians. Some estimates are as high as 1 million (This is lower than 10% since most of those admitted to the US were families not that THAT really makes a difference.)
January 1, 1895 – J. Edgar Hoover is born in Washington. Hoover led a deeply repressed sexual life, living with his mother until he was 40, awkwardly rejecting the attention of women and pouring his emotional, and at times, physical attention on his handsome deputy at the FBI. What exactly was his relationship with his ever constant companion and fellow FBI man Clyde Tolson? There has been a lot of speculation but no documentation. Still there are numerous stories of Hoover appearing in drag in New York. Usually in a red dress, and he liked to be called “Mary”.
January 1, 1900 – Silent movie star William Haines is born in Staunton, Virginia. His good looks and baby face made him a hit playing the wisecracking penniless young man in countless films. Blessed with a good voice, he was one of the few silent stars to make the transition to talkies.
In 1933, Haines was arrested in a YMCA with a sailor he had picked up in Los Angeles’ Pershing Square. Louis B. Mayer, the studio head at MGM, delivered an ultimatum to Haines: Choose between a sham marriage (also known as a “lavender marriage”) or his relationship with Shields. Haines chose Shields and they remained together for almost 50 years. Mayer subsequently fired Haines and terminated his contract. He made a few minor films at Poverty Row studios, then retired from acting. His final films were made with Mascot Pictures, Young and Beautiful and The Marines Are Coming in 1934.
Haines never returned to acting, but continued to receive offers for film roles. During production of Sunset Boulevard (1950), Haines was offered a cameo role in the film, which he declined. He later said, “It’s a rather pleasant feeling of being away from pictures and being part of them because all my friends are. I can see the nice side of them without seeing the ugly side of the studios.
Haines started a successful interior design business with his life partner Jimmie Shields, and was supported by friends in Hollywood most notably Joan Crawford.
Haines died of lung cancer in December 1973 at the age of 73.
January 1, 1901 – The Commonwealth of Australia was founded as six former British colonies became six states with Edmund Barton as the first prime minister, and Canberra as the capital. Today, Sydney, the biggest city in Australia, has one of the world’s largest gay communities. It’s annual Mardi Gras celebrations draw nearly a million a people from all over the globe.
January 1, 1933 – John Kingsley was born in Leicester, England. Writing under the name Joe Orton he became of Britain’s most popular comic playwrights (Entertaining Mr Sloane in 1964 and Loot in 1966). He was murdered by his lover Kenneth Halliwell who then committed suicide in the London flat they had occupied for 15 years. In 1967 he had written in his diary “I have high hopes of dying in my prime.” (Orton documentary embedded below.)
January 1, 1959 – Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba after leading a revolution that drove out dictator Fulgencio Batista. Castro then established a Communist dictatorship. Although homosexuality was illegal under the Batista government the laws were largely ignored in fun loving Cuba. Since Castro, tens of thousands of gays have been rounded up and imprisoned.
Richard Cornish, also known as Richard Williams, an English ship captain is reported to have been one of the earliest people, if not the first person, to have been hanged for sodomy in what would eventually become the United States.
In 1624 Cornish was ship master of the Ambrose, which was harbored in the James River of the Virginia colony in August of that year. During this time indentured servant, William Couse worked on the Ambrose and was ordered to put clean sheets on Cornish’s bed, upon which point Couse alleged that his master had been drunk and made a sexual advance upon him. Despite Couse’s refusal, Cornish was then reported to have forcibly sodomized Couse. Crouse also claimed that Cornish later sexually fondled him on numerous occasions and also humiliated him in front of the rest of the crew.
Cornish was given a trial, during which one of his crew members reported overhearing a conversation between Couse and Cornish that corroborated part but not all of Couse’s claims. The trial ended with Cornish being found guilty and sentenced to hang, which happened on an unspecified date in early 1625.
William Couse’s Testimony
William Couse [or Cowse], aged 29 years or thereabouts, sworn and examined sayeth, that the 27th day of August last, past about one or 2 of the clock in the afternoon, being aboard the good ship called the Ambrose, then riding at anchor in James River, Richard Williams, also [known as] Cornish, master of the said ship called the Ambrose, being then in drink, called to this examinee to lay a clean pair of sheet into his bed, which this examinee did, and the said [Richard] Williams went into the bed, and would have this examinee come into the bed to him, which this examinee refusing to do, the said Richard Williams went out of the bed and did cut this examinee’s cod piece . . , and made this examinee unready [unsteady?], and made him go into the bed, and then the said Williams also Cornish went into the bed to him, and there lay upon him, and kissed him and hugged him, saying that he would love this examinee if he would now and then come and lay with him, and so by force he turned this examinee upon his belly, and so did put this examinee to pain in the fundament, and did wet him, and after did call for a napkin which this examinee did bring unto him, and [Cornish did] sayeth that there was but one man aboard the ship, which was Walter Mathew, the boatswain’s mate, being [passage missing]. And further sayeth that he was for 3 or 4 days after, and that after this, the next day after, in the morning, the said Williams also Cornish said to this examinee, “Though [I did] play the fool with you yesterday, make no wonder.” Further he sayeth that after this, many times, he [Cornish] would put his hands in this examinee’s cod piece and played [with him] and kissed him, saying to this examinee that he would have brought them [sic] to sea with him, if he had [passage missing] him, that would have played with him. And after this examinee being called and refusing to go he … [took?] him before the mast and forbade all the ship’s company to eat with him, and made this examinee cook for all the rest.
This conviction and execution was challenged by several people – most notably Edward Nevell and Thomas Hatch, both of whom were indentured servants. Both men felt that Cornish was innocent and that his death was wrongful on the part of Virginia’s governor, Nevell going so far as to tell Cornish’s brother of his beliefs. These remarks were seen as offensive as they put the blame for Cornish’s death on the Virginian governor Sir Francis Wyatt and both men were severely punished for their comments. Nevell had both of his ears cut off and was unable to become a free man in Virginia while Hatch only lost one ear, but was whipped and his service contract was extended for an additional seven years.
1958: Truman Capote’s novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s is published in the November issue of Esquire Magazine. Gay men everywhere begin to name their cat “Cat”.
1969: The National Institutes of Mental Health released a report based on a study led by psychologist Dr. Evelyn Hooker stating that sodomy laws should be repealed.
Evelyn Hooker who applied for a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant to conduct research on “normal homosexuals.” presented the results of her research at the APA’s 1956 Annual Convention in Chicago. After the NIMH’s report, Dr. Hooker’s work on the homosexual subculture led to Hooker receiving an award in 1992 for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in the Public Interest from APA. In her response to this honor, she shared the award with the gay and lesbian community and expressed pleasure that her research and her “long advocacy of a scientific view of homosexuality” could make their lives and the lives of their families better. She closed her address by reading from a letter she had received from a gay man thanking her for her work and saying, “I think you did it because you knew what love was when you saw it, and you knew that gay love was like all other love.”
1987 : Over fifty ACT-UP members are arrested during an act of civil disobedience protesting President Reagan’s lack of action to the AIDS epidemic. In another demonstration a few days earlier about 150 people protested across the street from the United Nations building during the UN General Assembly’s first debate on AIDS. The General Assembly resolved to mobilize the entire UN system in the worldwide struggle against AIDS, under the leadership of the World Health Organization.
1987: The US House of Representatives voted 368-47 to approve an amendment to withhold federal funding from any AIDS education organization which encourages homosexual activity. The senate approved a similar amendment the previous week by a vote of 94-2. It was introduced by Sen. Jesse Helms. / The US House Judiciary Committee voted 21-13 to approve a bill requiring the justice department to collect statistics on hate crimes, including anti-gay violence.
1991: The first prime-time same-sex wedding on U.S. television – network TV, at that – aired on the Fox sitcom Roc .
The Season One episode “Can’t Help Loving That Man,” focuses on Roc’s uncle (Shaft’s Richard Roundtree) revealing he’s gay and going to marry a man named Chris, and the family’s subsequent struggle to accept his lifestyle, ultimately culminating with Roc (Charles S. Dutton) hosting the ceremony (at that time not legal) in his home.
1992: The San Diego Police Department announced that it was severing its ties with the Boy Scouts of America due to a local chapter’s dismissal of a gay police officer who was involved with the Explorer program.
1993: Roman Catholic priest Rev Andre Guindon dies of a heart attack at age 60. In his book “The Sexual Creators” he wrote that heterosexuals should look to same-sex couples to learn about tenderness and sharing. After the release of his book the Vatican demanded that Guindon apologize and bring his teaching more in line with the Catholic Church. Rev Andre Guindon never apologized and never changed his progressive teachings.
1977: Citizens United to Protect Our Children, an organization in Portland OR, announced they had failed to get enough signatures to get a recall election of Mayor Neil Goldschmidt after he declared Portland’s Gay Pride Day.
1990: Former Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell declared that he believed he made a mistake by voting to uphold Georgia’s sodomy laws in the 1986 Bowers v Hardwick case.
In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick to uphold Georgia’s sodomy law, and with it similar laws in twenty-five other states and the District of Columbia. It had been reported that Justice Powell had originally voted to strike down, but a few days later he changed his mind and became the deciding vote in the court’s 5-4 decision. His retirement the following year gave him plenty of time to think about what he had done. Four years after Bowers, Powell spoke before a group of law students at New York University where he was asked how he reconciled his vote in Bowers, which limited the right to privacy, with his vote inRoe v. Wade, which extended a woman’s right to privacy to include whether she wanted to have an abortion. “I think I probably made a mistake on that one,” Powell said of his Bowers decision.
Powell later explained to a law journal, “I do think I was inconsistent in a general way with Roe. When I had the opportunity to reread the opinions a few months later, I thought the dissent had the better of the arguments.” But Powell refused to consider his deciding vote all that important. “I thought it was a frivolous case. I still think it was a frivolous case.” He considered his decision as “one of little or no importance,” because, he said, no one had actually been prosecuted for homosexual conduct.
1990: Three white supremacists: Robert John Winslow, Stephen Nelson,, and Procter Baker were convicted of conspiring to blow up Neighbours Disco a gay bar in Boise, Idaho.
Robert John Winslow, a twenty-nine year old former infantryman from Laclede, Idaho had it all figured out. He used a towel spread out on a table top to represent the area around Seattle’s Neighbours Disco, a popular nightclub in the Capital Hill gayborhood, as he explained to Rico Valentino how it would all go down. They’d plant four bombs in the alley adjacent to Neighbours’ rear entrance. They’d paint them black and hide them in the shadows, on opposite sides of the alley. They could even use propane to create a “fireball effect.” Then someone would phone the bar with a bomb threat and everyone would evacuate out into the alley. “Fag burgers!” Winslow laughed. Why? Winslow said that homosexuals in America were threatening “white Christianity.” They also talked about bombing the Anti-Defamation League, cars owned by Jews, and businesses owned by blacks and Chinese.
They began planning the operation on April 20, 1990, during an Aryan Nation’s celebration of Hitler’s birthday, and now they were ready to do it. Winslow, Stephen Nelson, 35, and Procter Baker, 58, who had served as master of ceremonies for the birthday observance, were members of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian (Aryan Nations) at Hayden Lake, Idaho. But Valentino, a former professional wrestler, was a paid informant who had been working undercover for three years for the FBI. He wore a wire as Winslow laid out the plans. He also collected evidence at the Aryan Nations compound in Idaho. On May 12, 1990, Winslow and Nelson were arrested after driving with Valentino to Seattle. FBI agents trailed the van and arrested them in a motel parking lot near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Agents found pipe-bomb components, a .38-caliber pistol, a 12-gage shotgun and white-supremacist literature. Baker was arrested at his home in Coeur d’Alene. A search of his cabin in Kendrick turned up a partially assembled pipe bomb.
On October 18, 1990, Nelson, Winslow, and Baker were convicted of conspiracy and manufacturing and possessing pipe bombs. Nelson and Winslow were also found guilty of using interstate commerce in a conspiracy and possessing firearms during a violent crime. Winslow was sentenced to nine years, Nelson eight, and Baker to two years. The sentence was considered light: they had faced 20 to 25 years. But U.S. District Judge Harold Ryan rejected prosecutors contention that their actions amounted to “domestic terrorism,” and he also declined the government’s request to add time to the sentenced based on the intended victims.
1991: Admiral Frank B Kelso, chief of naval operations, announced that the explosion of the USS Iowa which killed forty-seven men had been proven not to have been caused by a wrongful intentional act and apologized to the family of Clayton Hartwig. Hartwig had been accused of intentionally causing the blast as an act of suicide following the break up of a homosexual affair. (It was NEVER proven that Hartwig was a was homosexual.)
On April 19, 1989 in the Number Two 16-inch gun turret aboard the USS Iowa exploded, killing 47 crewmen who were inside the turret. Iowa crewmen were ordered to remov the bodies, throw damaged equipment overboard and repaint the damaged turret the next day — all without taking photos or gathering any evidence. Investigators immediately set out the theory that Second Class Gunner’s Mate Clayton Hartwig, was killed in the blast, had committed suicide by detonating the explosion after an alleged affair with another male soldier ended. As far as the Navy was concerned, that explained everything and the case was closed.
But Congress and the general public weren’t satisfied. After mounting criticism, Navy Secretary J. Lawrence Garett III ordered the service to reopen the investigation and hand it over to independent investigators. During that investigation, a sample of gunpowder of the same type used on the USS Iowa exploded during a ram test, which simulated the process of raming bags of gunpowder into the gun during loading. With that, the original investigation, which was based on circumstantial evidence, also went up in smoke. The Navy was left with nothing to do but apologize. “For this, on behalf of the U.S. Navy, I extend my sincere regrets to the family,” said a statement from Adm. Frank Kekso, chief of naval operations. “The Navy will not imply that a deceased individual is to blame for his own death, or the death of others.” He also apologized to the other families of those who died because “such a long period has passed, and despite all efforts, no certain answers regarding the cause of this terrible tragedy can be found.”