Sodomy Law: Connecticut, October, 1672
death for sodomy
Connecticut legislators passed a statute amending their laws of 1642 and May 1650. The new "sodomy" provision eliminated the death penalty for the party who was forced, or under fifteen. Age had not been mentioned in the earlier law. The bestiality clause remained the same. Two new capital crimes were added to the 1673 law, incest and the striking of parents by children over fifteen.(1)
The capital crimes of 1672, listed in the following order, were: (1) idolatry, (2) blasphemy, (3) witchcraft, (4) murder, (5) murder through gile, (6) bestiality, (7) "sodomy," (8) incest, (9) rape, (10) man-stealing, (11) false witness, (12) conspiracy against the colony, (13) arson, and (14) children over fifteen cursing or smiting parents.
The law whose margin referred to "sodomy" read:
If any man lyeth with Man-kind as he lyeth with a Woman, both of them have committed abomination, they both shall surely be put to death, except it appear that one of the parties were forced, or under fifteen years of age. Levit. 20:13.
This Connecticut law was next revised with minor changes in 1750, 1796, and 1808. The death penalty for sodomy was abolished in Connecticut in 1821.(2)
- Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay/Lesbian Almanac (NY: Harper & Row, 1983), p.107-108, citing The Book of the General Laws for the People within the Jurisdiction of Connecticut (Cambridge, Mass.: Samuel Green, 1673), p. 9, reprinted in George Brinley, ed., The Laws of Connecticut. An Exact Reprint of the Original Edition of 1673 (Hartford, Conn.: for private distribution, 1865). The 1750 revision is mentioned in a footnote to The Public Statute Laws . . . (see below). The 1796 law is in Acts and Laws of the State of Connecticut (Hartford: Hudson & Goodwin, 1796), p. 182. The 1808 revision (or reprinting) is in The Public Statute Laws of the State of Connecticut, Book I (Hartford: Hudson & Goodwin, 1808), pp. 29495.
- The 1821 abolition of the death penalty for sodomy in Connecticut is reported by Louis Crompton (personal communication to Robert Oaks).