Tag Archives: sodomy laws

Gay History – December 18, 1980: New York State Court of Appeals Strikes Down Sodomy Law

new-york-sodomy

With the state of New York and especially New York City being such a mecca of progressive ideals its hard to believe that it was not until December 18, 1980 that New York became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to legalize homosexuality.  The Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, struck down the New York’s consensual sodomy law in a 5-2 decision. The court ruled that the law violated Constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection, noting that the law banned anal and oral sex only when those acts were performed by unmarried couples. Married couples were exempt under the law. Writing for the majority, Judge Hugh Jones wrote:

“We express no view as to any theological, moral or psychological evaluations of consensual sodomy. It is not the function of the Penal Law or our governmental policy to provide for the enforcement of moral or theological values. …the People have failed to demonstrate how government interference with the practice of personal choice in matters of intimate sexual behavior out of view of the public and with no commercial component will serve to advance the cause of public morality or do anything other than restrict individual conduct and impose a concept of private morality chosen by the State.”

The Court concluded its ruling by stating:

“In sum, there has been no showing of any threat, either to participants or the public in general, in consequence of the voluntary engagement by adults in private, discreet, sodomous conduct. Absent is the factor of commercialization with the attendant evils commonly attached to the retailing of sexual pleasures; absent the elements of force or of involvement of minors which might constitute compulsion of unwilling participants or of those too young to make an informed choice, and absent too intrusion on the sensibilities of members of the public, many of whom would be offended by being exposed to the intimacies of others. Personal feelings of distaste for the conduct sought to be proscribed by New York Penal Law § 130.38 and even disapproval by a majority of the populace, if that disapproval were to be assumed, may not substitute for the required demonstration of a valid basis for intrusion by the State in an area of important personal decision protected under the right of privacy drawn from the United States Constitution – areas, the number and definition of which have steadily grown but, as the Supreme court has observed, the outer limits of which it has not yet marked.

Gay History – July 28, 1961: Illinois Becomes First State to Rescind Sodomy Law Possibly By Mistake

In 1955, the Illinois General Assembly inaugurated the gargantuan task of overhauling its criminal code. Since its last major revision in 1874, the code had accumulated a patchwork of conflicting and confusing statues, some of which made no sense in the 20th century. Horse thieves, for example, were punished with a minimum penalty of three years in prison, but the maximum penalty for auto theft was only one year.

Over the ensuing six years, an eighteen-member joint committee of the Chicago and Illinois Bar Associations combed through the 148 chapters and 832 sections of the old statute books, using the American Law Institute’s 1956 Model Penal Code as a guide. The ALI had put together its Model Penal Code because a number of states were planning to revise their criminal codes over the next decade, and the 1956 Model Code recommended the elimination of all prohibitions against consensual sexual activity between consenting adults, including those which criminalized homosexual activity and relationships. Because the Model Penal Code also touched on a plethora of other criminal statues, it’s likely that most Illinois lawmakers didn’t realize that they were repealing their anti-sodomy law by adopting the omnibus legislation. Nevertheless, the code was adopted and signed into law by Gov. Otto Kerner on  July 28th, 1961, and the anti-sodomy law’s repeal became effective on January 1, 1962.

That didn’t mean however that eliminating the state’s anti-sodomy law was entirely by mistake. A booklet describing the new code prepared for Chicago Police by Claude R. Sowele, assistant professor at Northwestern University’s law school, commented, “The Law should not be cluttered with matters of morality so long as they do not endanger the community. Morality should be left to the church, community and the individual’s own conscience.” While Illinois became the first state to legalize consensual adult same-sex relationships, the change in the state’s criminal code had few practical benefits for the state’s LGBT population, as police raids and harassment on other pretexts (or no pretext) would continue without letup for another two decades.

Illinois would remain the only state in the union to legalize consensual adult same-sex relationships until 1971, when Connecticut would finally rescind its sodomy law, followed by Colorado and Oregon (1972), Hawaii and North Dakota (1973), Ohio (1974), New Hampshire and New Mexico (1975). The big year was 1976, when California, Indiana, Maine, Washington and West Virginia stopped criminalizing homosexuality. By the time Lawrence v. Texas struck down all sodomy laws nationwide in 2003, thirty-six states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had eliminated their anti-homosexuality laws, either by legislative action or by state court decisions. 

Gay History – 1962: The Shocking Mansfield, Ohio Gay Sex Sting. 78 Gay Men Arrested – [Rare Video]

In the summer of 1962 the Mansfield, Ohio Police Department set up a gay sex sting by filming men having sex in a public restroom under the main square of the city.  A cameraman hid in a closet and filmed the clandestine activities through a two-way mirror. The police filmed over a three-week period, and the resulting film footage was used to obtain the convictions of over 78 local men on charges of sodomy.  (Several of the accused were committed to an asylum for shock treatment. One of them later committed suicide.)

All of the 38 men were convicted of sodomy.  They were publicly humiliated and found themselves ensnared by the state’s Ascherman Act, which ordered all felons deemed a danger to society to be institutionalized for a potentially indefinite period; all were required to serve the minimum sentence, even those judged by medical professionals to be “cured” prior to that time.  The treatment involved a number of now-discredited methods, including electroshock and various other aversion therapy techniques, and drugs with known severe side effects.  After their release few recovered from the trauma and many were ostracized from families and friends.   It would not be until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association struck homosexuality from its list of mental disorders; until that moment, the psychiatric profession had essentially lent its tacit endorsement to these laws and practices.

After the arrests, the restroom below Mansfield’s Central Park was closed to the public and in a gesture more superstitious than practical, it was filled in with dirt and covered up.

The footage itself is chilling and stark.  One must always remember that it was not only the fact that these men were having sex in a public bathroom that got them arrested.  It was the fact that they were gay.  The sex act on film was only the evidence.  

David Herkt sums:.

The video documents a straight-laced America of button-up shirts, horn-rimmed glasses and ubiquitous cigarettes where fleeting moments of sexual expression can be experienced in hidden places but within a context of fear. Even during the sex-acts, the eyes of these men are often focused on the restroom doors and the possibility of an intrusion that could mean arrest and imprisonment. There is an urgency of need for contact that overcomes the weight of law and self but cannot quite overcome the awareness of possible consequences.

There is also a poignancy as each of the men is observed – smoking, washing hands, straightening attire in a mirror, involved in brief sexual contact, wiping semen from the floor – because, for them, these moments mark their last instants of freedom from restraint by the state or confinement in a treatment facility.

Even now over 55 years later 18 out of the 50 United States still have sodomy laws on the books and use the same techniques as in Mansfield to persecute and prosecute homosexual men. In fact the Mansfield Police Department published rules and guidelines and provided technical know-how assisting every other city in America to obtain convictions in the same way.

A Mansfield-based film company put out an award-winning documentary for law enforcement agencies detailing  how the Mansfield Underground Restroom Scandal could be duplicated in every other precinct in America.

William E. Jones found a degraded version of the police tapes used in the prosecution of these of the men involved that was also sent out to other police departments in the United States.

The film has been restored and serves as a shocking reminder of our past.

WARNING: THIS LINK will take you to video. It is EXTREMELY NSWF and is used here for historical and educational reference only.

 

Gay History- June 6, 1671: Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Plymouth Colony Makes Gay Sex Punishable By Death

Gay Pilgrim

On June 6, 1667, the General Court of Plymouth, Massachusetts added several capital crimes to those listed in the previous years.. One of these laws was the “sodomy” statute stating that those who commit sodomy shall be put to death, but with a caveat making persons under fourteen and the party of forced sodomy not punishable by death. The further qualification, that “all other sodomitical filthiness” shall be punished according to its nature, may have meant that anal penetration was necessary for the death penalty, and that other types of non-penetrative, “sodomitical” (sodomy-like) acts, such as mutual or public masturbation, were not as  punished so severely.

The sixteen crimes punishable by death in the Plymouth law of 1671 were listed as: (1) “Idolatry,” (2) “Blasphemy,” (3) “Treason,” (4) “Conspiring against this Juristiction” (attempted invasion, insurrection, or rebellion), (5) “Willful murder,” (6) “Sudden Murder in Passion,” (7) “Murder by Guile or Poisoning,” (8) “Witchcraft,” (9) “Bestiality,” (10) “Sodomy,” (11) “False-witness,” (12) “Man-stealing,” (13) “Cursing or Smiting Father or Mother,” (14) “The Rebellious Son,” (15) “Rape,” (16) “Willful burning of Houses, Ships, etc.”

The provision, whose margin referred to “sodomy” reads:

If any Man lyeth with Mankind, as he lyeth with a Woman, both of them have committed Abomination; they both shall surely be put to Death, unless the one party were forced, or be under fourteen years of Age: And all other Sodomitical filthiness, shall be surely punished according to the nature of it.

This Plymouth law was revised when Plymouth was united with Massachusetts in 1697.

But make no mistake sodomy was still punished by death in the early 1600’s.  Just not “legally”.

According to Raymond Paternoster’s Capital Punishment in America (1991), during the 1600s there were a total of five documented death sentences in the colonies for same‑sex sodomy during the 1600s, two each in Connecticut and New York, and one in Virginia. In addition, there was another prosecution in New York in which the records do not show disposition of the case. There were a total of 162 known death sentences carried out in all the colonies during the century, making the five known for same-sex sodomy about 3% of the total. The number of executions does not, of course, indicate the impact and effect of such executions.

According to the online Executions in the U.S. 1608-1987: The Espy File (s) there were 10 known executions for sodomy or buggery (same-sex or different sex, human-human or human-beast, or act type unspecified) in the colonies between 1625 and 1674. One of those executions was in Virginia, two in New York, three in Massachusetts, and four in Connecticut. Between 1757 and 1801 there were five executions for sodomy or buggery. Three were in New Jersey, one in Pennsylvania, and one under Spanish law in California.

In 1642, Edward Preston was sentenced to be publicly whipped at both Plymouth and Barnstable “for his lewd practices tending to sodomy with Edward Mitchell, and pressing John Keene thereunto (if he would have yielded).” Keene, who had reported the crime, was required to watch the punishment because he was suspected of “not being without fault himself.” No death penalty here, since the actions of Preston and Mitchell only “tended toward sodomy.”

Gay History – November 17, 1998: John Lawrence Arrested In His Home For Having Gay Sex. Lawrence vs. Texas Begins

In 1960 every state in America had an anti-sodomy law on its books.

In 1961, the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code advocated the repeal of sodomy laws as they applied to private, adult, consensual behavior. Two years later the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took its first major case in opposition to these laws. Most judges were largely unsympathetic to the substantive due process claims raised.

But one of the biggest steps toward gay equality, the end of America’s sodomy laws, began 20+ years ago on November 17, 1998 when a 911 operator received a call about “a black male going crazy with a gun” at John Geddes Lawrence’s home in the Houston suburbs. Harris County sheriff’s deputies responded and entered Lawrence’s unlocked apartment. There, they purportedly found Lawrence and Tyron Garner engaging in consensual sex. What they actually found is a matter of debate. Lawrence and Garner weren’t lovers — in fact, that false report had been phoned in by Garner’s actual lover, Robert Eubanks, who suspected Garner and Lawrence were having an affair. One deputy wrote in his report that he saw Garner on the bed “on all fours” on the receiving end of anal sex with Lawrence, and that both were completely naked. Another said that he saw them on the floor, and that Garner wasn’t naked. He wasn’t sure whether he saw them having anal sex or oral sex — two completely different acts which would be very difficult to confuse. “The black guy was giving him head or they was [sic] doing each other from behind. I don’t remember.”

Lawrence and Garner were arrested, held in jail overnight, and charged with violating Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code. That law, otherwise known as the Texas Homosexual Conduct law, prohibited engaging “in deviant sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex.” They both denied having sex that night, but their lawyers, sensing that the case might have the makings of a landmark case, advised them to plead no contest, neither admitting guilt nor protesting innocence. Because they didn’t actually have sex, the lawyers didn’t want to make the case about their innocence. After all, it’s hard to argue that two consenting adults of the same sex have the right to have sexual relations in the privacy of their home when the two adults in question hadn’t actually had sex. And so on November 20, 1998, Lawrence and Garner were convicted of the Class C misdemeanor by a Justice of the Peace in Houston, and were fined $200 each.

And with that, the landmark case of Lawrence v. Texas began to make its way through the court system: to the Texas Criminal Court (which rejected the defense’s request to dismiss the charges), a three-judge panel of the Texas 14th Court of Appeals (which ruled the law unconstitutional), and the full nine-judge panel of the 14th Court of Appeals (which reversed the three-judge panel). The appeal then reached the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which serves as the state’s supreme court for criminal cases. That court refused to hear the case, which left the lower court’s decision standing. Lawrence vs. Texas was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. On June 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Texas anti-sodomy law in a 6-3 ruling, along with similar laws in twelve other states.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion which Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer joined. The Court held that homosexuals had a protected liberty interest to engage in private, sexual activity; that homosexuals’ moral and sexual choices were entitled to constitutional protection; and that moral disapproval did not provide a legitimate justification for Texas’s law criminalizing sodomy.[36]

Kennedy wrote: “The petitioners [Lawrence and Garner] are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.” Kennedy reviewed the assumption the court made in Bowers, using the words of Chief Justice Burger’s concurring opinion in that case, that “Condemnation of [homosexual practices] is firmly rooted in Judeao-Christian moral and ethical standards.”

He reviewed the history of legislation that criminalized certain sexual practices, but without regard for the gender of those involved. He cited the Model Penal Code’s recommendations since 1955, the Wolfenden Report of 1963, and a 1981 decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Case 7525/76 Dudgeon v UK.

He endorsed the views Justice Stevens had outlined in his dissent in Bowers and wrote: “Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled.” The majority decision also held that the intimate, adult consensual conduct at issue here was part of the liberty protected by the substantive component of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process protections. Kennedy said that the Constitution protects “personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, [and] child rearing” and that homosexuals “may seek autonomy for these purposes.” Holding that “the Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual”, the court struck down the anti-sodomy law as unconstitutional. Kennedy underscored the decision’s focus on consensual adult sexual conduct in a private setting:

The present case does not involve minors. It does not involve persons who might be injured or coerced or who are situated in relationships where consent might not easily be refused. It does not involve public conduct or prostitution. It does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.

What should not come to a shock to any is that Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a dissent stating:

Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct…. [T]he Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed.

He cited the majority opinion’s concern that the criminalization of sodomy could be the basis for discrimination against homosexuals as evidence that the majority ignored the views of most Americans:

So imbued is the Court with the law profession’s anti-anti-homosexual culture, that it is seemingly unaware that the attitudes of that culture are not obviously “mainstream”; that in most States what the Court calls “discrimination” against those who engage in homosexual acts is perfectly legal.

He continued: “Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means.” The majority’s “invention of a brand-new ‘constitutional right'”, he wrote, showed it was “impatient of democratic change”.

The case attracted much public attention, and a large number of amici curiae (“friends of the court”) briefs were filed. Its outcome was celebrated by gay rights advocates, and set the stage for further reconsideration’s of standing law, including the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges which recognized same-sex marriage as a fundamental right.

Isle of Man Follows The UK And Will Introduce Gay Pardon Law, When Will You America?

isle-of-man

The Isle of Man has announced it will be moving forward with plans to pardon historical convictions for gay offenses.

The former Home Affairs Minister, Juan Waterson, has indicated he’s pushing for the pardon’s to be included in a new sexual offenses act that will be open for public consultation before the end of the year.

The announcement from the tiny self-governing protectorate, that’s located in the Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland, follows a similar commitment from British Prime Minister Theresa May.

May has pledged to implement the Alan Turing law. Turing was a code breaker who a key member of the team that broke the Nazis’ enigma code during the second world war. Turing took his own life in 1954 after being convicted of gross indecency and undergoing chemical castration. He was pardoned for his homosexuality in 2013.

Now the British government is preparing the forgive all convictions for gay offences prior to the decriminalization of homosexuality.

Homosexuality was legalized in the United Kingdom in 1967 but the Isle of Man did not change their laws until 1992. LGBTIQ+ political activists on the Isle of Man have also called for the Chief Constable of the police force to issue an apology for the past actions of the police.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau  posthumously pardon a man imprisoned in 1966 for being gay who is largely credited for bringing about a change in Canada’s laws on homosexuality.

But nothing has come from America on the subject of pardoning the thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of gay men who were convicted in the past for sodomy offenses.

Through the 20th century, the gradual liberalization of American sexual morals led to the elimination of sodomy laws in most states. During this time, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of sodomy laws in Bowers v. Hardwick in 1986. However, in 2003 the Supreme Court reversed the decision with Lawrence v. Texas, invalidating sodomy laws in the remaining 14 states (Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan,Mississippi, Missouri (statewide), North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia).

Unfortunately sodomy laws in the United States were largely a matter of state rather than federal jurisdiction, except for laws governing the District of Columbia and the U.S. Armed Forces which makes the process of a mass pardoning difficult if not impossible in America’s current political climate

Ken Cuccinelli Gets F**ked! – SCOTUS Denies Ken Cuccinelli’s Request To Stay VA’s Sodomy Law

Crazy Ken Cuccinelli

Virginia’s blatantly anti-gay attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, who is behind the states “Crimes Against Nature Law” (which is really nothing but a revamped sodomy law) took it upon himself  to appeal the decision by the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond which found the law to be unconstitutional, citing Lawrence v. Texas to the Supreme Court.  Cuccinelli also requested a stay, postponing the Fourth Circuit Court’s decision until after the Supreme Court appeal which would allow the state to uphold his new sodomy law until SCOTUS hears the case.

This past Friday, according to the Washington Blade, Chief Justice John Roberts, acting on behalf of the entire court, denied Cuccinelli’s request. The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision of whether or not to hear the case either later this year or in early 2014. Until then, Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature Law” will remain un-enforcable.

Bend over and take it like a man Cuccinelli you’ve just been fucked!

Gay Man Convicted Of Sodomy And Executed In Iran’s Marvdasht, Fars Province

Reports via The Jerusalem Post are stating that a gay man was sentenced and hung last week for committing the crime of “sodomy” with another man in Iran.

According to JP via Pink News Iran’s judiciary imposed the death penalty on a man only identified as Ch. M. in  Marvdasht, Fars province, on April 19 “for allegedly engaging in ‘sodomy’ with  another man

Gholamhossein Chamansara, the attorney-general of Marvdasht, told  the government-controlled Iranian Fars News Agency that a man (Ch. M.)  was sentenced to death because of his “despicable/heinous act that contradicted  Shari’a Muslim laws.”

The Iranian Human Rights  Activists News Agency (HRAN) stated that the reference to ‘despicable/ heinous  act’ indicates that the death penalty was carried due to same-sex acts. However  the judiciary regulatory office in Fars Province was unwilling to give more  precise information about the case and the type of sexual activities of the  executed man.

The British Guardian earlier this month translated remarks from Grand Ayatollah Abdollah  Javadi-Amoli, who said, “Even animals… dogs and pigs don’t engage in this  disgusting act [homosexuality], but yet they [Western politicians] pass laws in  favor of them in their parliaments.”

In an interview last week with the Die Welt am Sonntag,  Prime Minister of Israel Binyamin Netanyahu commented on Iran’s human rights  record.  “After all they stone women, they hang gays – this is a backward,  dark medieval regime that imposes its tyranny on its own people. Shoots them on  the sidewalk, goes into their homes, culls the Internet, takes people away at  night,” he said.

LGBT human rights activists have been loudly critical in recent months of the  Human Rights Watch for failing to focus on the rise of  persecution of gays in the Islamic Republic and elsewhere in more “civilized” sections of the Middle East like Saudia Arabia, Jordan, and Eqypt where homosexuality is punished by long prison terms and possibly death.

Kansas To Spit In The Gay Community’s Face And Leave “Symbolic” Sodomy Law On The Books

Because the topic is just too “sensitive” to address, according to one Kansas state senator, lawmakers in that state  will be keeping Kansas sodomy law on the books despite the fact that they cannot successfully prosecute anyone under it because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Lawrence v. Texas which struck down anti-sodomy laws as unconstitutional.

 

I’d say boycott Kansas but really what the fuck is there to boycott.

As far as suing the state of Kansas over leaving the unconstitutional sodomy law on the books. Well Gee. It sure would be nice if one of our many *cough* useless *cough* LGBT advocacy organizations would actually stand up, grow some balls and sue the state.

KANSASWhere men are men, and sheep are nervous.

WATCH – "Victim" (1961) Starring Dirk Boagarde – Back2Stonewall Saturday LGBT Cinema Classic

Melville Farr, (Dirk Bogarde) is a married lawyer, a blackmailer who has photos of Farr and a young gay man, Farr tracks down other gay men being extorted for money by the same blackmailer. The well-educated police Detective Inspector Harris considers the sodomy law nothing more than an aid to blackmailers, and helps Farr in calling his blackmailer’s bluff.
This movie was far ahead of its time in 1961 was then a blatant plea for England to reforms it’s sodomy laws which were still on the books.

*Watch the ENIIRE Movie “Victim” here at Back2Stonewall.com after the jump! (CLICK Read More below!)