The early sixties were a pretty sexy time in the US. A decade after Alfred Kinsey conducted his sexuality studies, Americans were enthralled by the steamy affair between JFK and Marilyn Monroe, everyone wanted to get invited to a Playboy Club party, and the Free Love movement was rapidly subverting the prudish “values” of the previous generation.
Some lawmakers, however, weren’t totally down with all this sexiness. This 1964 document, found in the NYPL digital archives, provides a state-by-state listing of penalties for “sex offenses.” It basically makes today’s world look like Sodom. In Nevada (where prostitution is currently legal), you could go to jail for a year and be fined $1,000.00 for “fornication.” North Carolinans could expect to go to jail for up to 60 years if found guilty of so-called sodomy, vaguely defined as “a wide variety of ‘unnatural’ sexual activity.” In states like Maryland and Utah, merely living with someone of the opposite sex without being married could land you 5 years in prison.
Well, sucks for them. New York was by far the most lenient when it came to how its residents chose to get their freaks on. The worst penalty New Yorkers faced was six months in prison for adultery, which is actually kind of… sweet?
So congratulations, New York, you’ve always been the “slutty” one. Click or go to NYPL to view.