Kansas Court Upholds Tougher Sentences for Gay Sex
January 30, 2004
By 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Topeka, Kansas—The Kansas Court
of Appeals Friday upheld a 17-year prison sentence handed a teenager convicted
of having sex with another teen.
Matthew Limon was 18 years old when he was convicted in
2000 of having consensual oral sex with a 14-year-old boy at a private group
home for people with developmental disabilities in Paola.
Limon never denied the sex nor that it was with a minor.
But, that he would have served a maximum of only 15 months in jail under the
Kansas law had the other teenager been female.
Because the state’s so-called “Romeo and Juliet”
law applies only to heterosexuals, Limon was convicted under the much harsher
state sodomy law.
The ACLU, which represented Limon argued that the Kansas
“Romeo and Juliet” law is similar to the Texas law the U.S. Supreme Court
struck down in June in its historic decision in Lawrence v. Texas because the
Kansas law treats the sexual conduct of lesbian and gay people differently.
The day after its decision in the Texas case, the U.S.
Supreme Court vacated Limon’s conviction and instructed the Kansas Court of
Appeals to give it further consideration in light of its ruling in Lawrence.
Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline in his submission to
the court claimed that the state should be able to punish gay teenagers more
harshly under the “Romeo and Juliet” law because doing so would encourage
heterosexual teenagers to marry.
In a 2-1 decision the state Court of Appeals affirmed the
Judge Henry Green Jr. held that the facts in the Texas
case differed from those in the Limon case; specifically in not dealing with
sex with minors.
Judge G. Joseph Pierron was the lone dissenter, arguing
that Kansas law that mandates higher prison sentences for illegal sex acts,
based on whether the defendant is the same sex as the victim, was
“The court’s opinion in this case defies
comprehension, and we intend to seek an appeal,” said Dick Kurtenbach,
Executive Director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri.
“The U.S. Supreme Court ordered Kansas to reconsider
this case in light of its holding last summer that the government can’t have
a different set of rules for gay people than it does for straight people. But
the Kansas court’s opinion is written as if Lawrence v. Texas, which struck
down same-sex-only sodomy laws, had never even happened.”
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