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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 9, 1973)
by Liane Wetterer
Although the winds of change have created some ripples,
the ancient crime of sodomy remains on the books in
Nebraska. Possibly not for long.
A "behind the scenes" move, soon to surface in the
Legislature, could make Nebraska one of the first states in the
country to revise its sodomy laws.
The proposed revision of the Nebraska Criminal Code, LB8,
would replace chapter 28 of the 1943 Nebraska Revised
Statutes. A hearing date before the Legislative Judiciary
Committee has not been set, however.
The current law defines sodomy as "carnal copulation with
a beast or in an opening of the body except sexual parts with
another human being.."
Maximum sentence is 20 years imprisonment.
In the revised code, the entire section defining sodomy and
its punshiment have been omitted.
"Actually, we've just excluded the punishment for
homosexual activities in private with consenting adults,"
according to Michael R. Johnson, a member of the staff who
revised the code.
"We're simply bringing in the law up to what it always
realistically was," Johnson said. 'The police aren't running
around breaking down bedroom doors."
Johnson said the proposed Nebraska code still includes
punishment for "deviate sexual intercourse" by force,
imposition, or with a person under 14 years old.
The Nebraska code, he added, is modeled mainly after the
Model Penal Code, drafted by the American Law Institute, and
Colorado's recently-revised criminal code.
According to the American Law the Institute, "The code
does not attempt to use the power of the state to enforce
purely moral or religious standards.
The existing law is substantially unenforceable, the institute
said, tacitly encourages blackmail, may deter homosexuals
from seeking psychiatric care and wastes police personnel and
funds while more heinous crimes go unsolved.
Immediately after publication of the Model Penal Code,
New York and Minnesota attempted to revoke their criminal
sanctions against private, consenting adult homosexuality. In
both cases, the proposals for revision were voted down by
A 1971 case study by Jon F. Simmons, a UNL law student,
reported that 46 states still have laws against sodomy.
Twenty-six of those (not including Nebraska) are patterned
after the original English sodomy statute of 1533, defining it
as "detestable and abominable vice of buggery, committed
with either man or beast."
Anthropological studies reveal that just as some societies
have strong taboos against homosexuality, other condone or
even encourage it.
Among western civilizations, only the United States has
prohibitions against private, consenting, adult homosexual
Criminal law of many nations-including Italy, France,
Sweden, Poland, Czechoslovakia and England-no longer
punishei private homosexual relations between consenting
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