Unfair: Equalize Sex Laws
Eagle, February 7, 2004
South Kansas Avenue, Wichita, KS 66603
Last week’s Kansas Court of Appeals ruling in the case
of Matthew R. Limon suggested that the Legislature does and should have the
ability to make unfair laws, in this case a sentencing provision that treats
consensual gay sex between teens far more harshly than state law treats
consensual heterosexual sex between teens of the same ages. Because Mr. Limon,
then 18, and the 14-year-old he had sex with were of the same gender, the case
was treated as one of criminal sodomy involving an adult and child. Had either
teen been female, the 1999 “Romeo and Juliet” teen-sex law and its lesser
penalties would have applied.
The majority opinion mentioned protecting children,
preserving “traditional sexual mores” of society and even considering
“certain health risks” in outlining the basis for how the “Legislature
could have rationally determined that heterosexual sodomy between a child and
an adult could be put in a class by itself.”
But the fact that lawmakers can pass what the dissenting
opinion termed a “blatantly discriminatory sentencing provision” doesn’t
mean they should let the law stand.
Even Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who praised the
court’s ruling as a “broad victory in protecting the institution of
marriage as well as protecting laws which serve to protect children from
predatory sexual behavior,” has recognized the inherent unfairness of a
system that can punish gay teen sex with a 17-year sentence and heterosexual
teen sex with a 15-month sentence.
Last fall Mr. Kline said, “I would be the first to say
the Legislature should change the law.... It should be orientation-neutral.”
He was right then. Legislators shouldn’t let renewed
and unrelated opposition to gay marriage deter them from doing the right thing
on this issue now.
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