Entry #12157: Homosexual activity in Washington

Current Version

IssueHomosexual activity
Start DateMar 2, 1853
End DateMar 14, 1893
DescriptionSection 12 of the Organic Act, which established the Territorial Government of Washington, adopted the laws of the Territory of Oregon applicable to the Territory of Washington as of March 2, 1853, which did not include any reference to sodomy. The Laws of the Territory of Washington 1875 p 85 § 1 included a vagrancy statute with a catch all definition of "disorderly persons" but did not single out homosexual activity and any arrest was set to only last so far as surety of good behavior could be ascertained. The Code of Washington 1881, enacted on December 1, 1881, p 159 § 782 stated "All offenses at common law, which are not hereinafter defined by statute are indictable and triable in the district courts of this territory." Thus it was possible to be indicted for 'crimes against nature' however p 162 § 806 criminalized "an assault with an intent to commit the infamous crime against nature" but did NOT criminalize the 'infamous crime against nature'. As such no punishment could be attached to an indictment for homosexual activity except in the case of an assault. This is the precedent that was described in Justice Stiles's opinion in STATE v. PLACE. On February 18, 1893, in STATE v. PLACE, 5 Wash. 773; 32 P. 736 (1893) the Washington Supreme Court noted the Washington State Penal Code did "not define the crime against nature known as sodomy, nor impose a penalty for its commission.” The crime against nature punishable as a felony at common law was not punishable in the state because no penalty has been fixed by statute.
Sources10 U.S. Statutes at Large, c 90 p 172 § 12 https://leg.wa.gov/CodeReviser/RCWArchive/Documents/2006/Vol0/Organic.pdf Laws of the Territory of Washington 1875 p 85 § 1 https://leg.wa.gov/CodeReviser/documents/sessionlaw/1875pam1.pdf Code of Washington containing all acts of a general nature. 1881 p 159 § 782; 1881 p 162 § 806 https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/002018855/Home STATE v. PLACE, 5 Wash. 773; 32 P. 736 (1893) http://courts.mrsc.org/washreports/005WashReport/005WashReport0773.htm RCW 9.87.010 Vagrancy. https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/dispo.aspx?cite=9.87.010 Painter, George. History of Sodomy Laws in the United States. https://www.glapn.org/sodomylaws/sensibilities/washington.htm

Revision History (1)

Revision by tsusamu. It was not considered legal, it was very vague and could hardly mean anything

Old Value (Original) New Value (Current)
Special Status(REMOVED)Ambiguous

JerofDoorhandle created this entry.