xviii Chronology The Catholic Church and the Twelfth-Century European Transformation—For most of the first thousand years of the Catholic Church, homosexual marriages were sanctioned by church ritual. The scholar John Boswell documented this in his groundbreaking work, Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Four- teenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980). Unlike heterosexual ceremonies that were mostly about property rights and were held outdoors, gay marriages were identified with love and held inside the church. But by the thir- teenth century, the Catholic Church solidified its hold over Europe and Thomas Aquinas constructed the framework in which homosexual acts were classified less worthy than heterosexual ones. In 50 short years, from 1250 to 1300, homosexual- ity went from being completely legal in most of Europe to a behavior meriting the death penalty. Ming Dynasty 1368 to 1644—Homosexuality was tolerated as long as it was not an exclusive sexual expression and as long as men fulfilled their familial procreative duties. When the Manchu entered the city in the summer of 1644 overthrowing the Ming dynasty, the first male homosexual rape law was enacted and male homo- sexuality was severely punished. Russia—There is much evidence that male homosexuality was widespread and tol- erated in all strata of Russian society prior to the Westernization reforms of Peter the Great (early eighteenth century). The first law penalizing consensual male ho- mosexuality was enacted in 1706 and required burning at the stake. Peter the Great (who was bisexual) mitigated the penalty and there are no known instances of its application. The criminalization of male homosexuality came later under the bru- tal rule of Nicolas I, when article 995 was enacted in the legal code of 1832. United States from 1607, by Years The expansion westward of white Europeans brought with them various legal codes that included sodomy provisions. As territories and then states were formed, these codes were adopted into state charters and constitutions. Sodomy provisions were based on English or Spanish legal codes that were, originally, based on religious tenets formed during the many Catholic inquisitions that swept Europe in the twelfth through fourteenth centuries. Sodomy was not clearly defined and used as a catchall phrase to punish people for sexual transgressions (real or perceived). Often the pen- alty for committing sodomy was death. 1607 The initial reports back to England about the settlements at Jamestown (ini- tially settled by all men) described sailors stealing food and trading for sexual favors. By 1610, sodomy had become so widespread that a military order was adopted stating, “[n]o man shal [sic] commit the horrible, and detestable sinnes of Sodomie upon pain of death[.]” 1610 The Virginia Colony passes the first sodomy law in America. It requires the death penalty for offenders and does not include women in its definition of “sodomites.”
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