xxiv Chronology 1851 Minnesota Territory adopts common law from Wisconsin that criminalizes sodomy. New Mexico Territory adopts common-law statutes that make sodomy a capital offense. Utah is initially organized as the State of Deseret and adopts Iowa law that includes a prohibition for “any man or boy” from engaging in “any sexual in- tercourse with any of the male creation.” The laws are modified the next year in 1852 and make no mention of sodomy, thus legalizing sodomy throughout the territory. 1853 Oregon passes a new criminal code that abrogates common-law crimes. Washington Territory adopts the laws of Oregon. Because Oregon does not have sodomy provisions at the time, Washington, too, does not have a sodomy statute. 1854 Alabama enacts a law that allows a spouse to sue for divorce if the other spouse is found to have committed sodomy either before or after the marriage. 1855 Kansas enacts a criminal code that makes sodomy a felony and punishable with imprisonment for not less than 10 years. Nebraska adopts the common law of England making sodomy a capital offense. 1857 A 21-year-old Mormon soldier is convicted of bestiality with his horse in Utah. The soldier is ordered to be shot but is not however, the horse is shot. 1858 Half of the District of Columbia is controlled by Virginia law, and Maryland law controls the other half. The early criminal codes specified lengthy prison sentences for free men and death to slaves convicted of sodomy. By 1858, the entire criminal code is rescinded by the voters and, thereby, sodomy statutes are rejected—a first for the nation to have voters reject a sodomy statute. 1860 Colorado Territory is organized without explicit sodomy statutes but recog- nizes English common-law crimes thus requiring the death penalty for sod- omy conviction. Texas enacts its first explicit sodomy provision. West Virginia adopts the “buggery” laws of Virginia proscribing a penalty of one to five years in prison. The homoerotic Leaves of Grass is published by Walt Whitman to great controversy. 1861 Although Congress applies the organic law to the Nevada Territory, once it be- comes a state later that year, it enacts a criminal code that adopts the common-law definition of sodomy requiring a penalty of imprisonment for five years to life. 1862 The territory of Dakota (which includes both North and South Dakota) enacts a common-law definition of sodomy in its criminal code and sodomy is pun- ishable by one year to life in prison.
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