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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Draconian law overturned

Found this item per Monica's blog, the way there.

A Kansas law regarding gay sex by teenagers has been overturned, undoing an overtly discriminatory ruling. I first read about Matthew Limon in an April column at, which revealed the plight of the young mentally challenged man sentenced to 17 years in prison for having consensual sex with a fellow student at a Kansas school in 2000. The other boy was just a few days away from his 15th birthday while Limon had just turned 18. Advocates for the ruling argued that the older boy was an adult who had criminally sodomized the younger boy and that this was simply a case of convicting a sexual predator. But to human and gay rights advocates, that explanation didn't hold since had the sex been between two heterosexual teens, Limon would have only received a maximum sentence of 15 months under the state's "Romeo and Juliet" law.

Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the "starkly different penalties violated the federal Constitution's equal protection clause. It said the state's "Romeo and Juliet" statute, which limits the punishment that can be imposed on older teenagers who have sex with younger ones, but only if they are of the opposite sex, must also apply to teenagers who engage in homosexual sex."

Limon's attorney, James Esseks, noted that Limon had "spent an extra four years and five months in jail only because he's gay."

What is truly disturbing is the reasoning offered by one of the majority jurists in the original Limon ruling. Henry W. Green, Jr. stated that the Kansas law "promoted traditional sexual mores...the traditional sexual development of children, marriage, procreation and parental responsibility." Then further stated that "the law helped protect minors from sexually transmitted diseases, which he said were more generally associated with homosexual than with heterosexual activity." (I would suggest that Judge Green, Jr. read recent studies about the increase of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, in teenagers participating in heterosexual acts).

The Kansas Supreme Court rejected the reasoning for the original ruling. Justice Marla J. Luckert wrote: "The moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate state interest."

All I can say is amen to that.

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 10/23/2005 09:16:00 AM Permanent Link     | | Home


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