Teen’s 17-Year Sentence for Gay Sex Upheld
/ PlanetOut.com Network, January 30, 2004
By Christopher Curtis
SUMMARY: Advocates for GLBT rights were outraged after
the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled that the state can punish homosexual acts
between minors much more severely than heterosexual ones.
Advocates for GLBT civil rights reacted with anger after
the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the state can punish homosexual
acts between minors much more severely than heterosexual ones.
The 2-1 ruling affects Matthew R. Limon, who was
sentenced in 2001 to more than 17 years in prison for having consensual oral
sex after he had just turned 18 with a boy nearly a month away from his 15th
birthday in a home for the developmentally disabled.
According to state law, sexual activity with anyone under
16 is illegal. But if Limon had been having a heterosexual encounter, he would
have only faced a sentence of 15 months under the state’s “Romeo and
Juliet” law, which limits penalties for underage sex between heterosexual
This is the second time the Kansas Court of Appeals has
heard Limon’s case. In February of 2002, the Kansas Appellate court rejected
his equal protection claim. But the U.S. Supreme Court remanded Limon’s case
last year after its historic Lawrence v. Texas ruling, when it ruled laws
cannot treat the sexual conduct of gays and lesbians differently than that of
Mitchell Katine, a Texas-based lawyer who participated in
the Lawrence v. Texas case, was disappointed with Friday’s ruling.
“The Supreme Court wanted to give the Kansas court an
opportunity to correct the case in light of Lawrence,” he told the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com
Network. “How many Supreme Court cases are there going to have to be before
courts get the message that gay and lesbian people are to be treated
Kansas Judge Henry W. Green Jr. justified his ruling by
saying legislators could claim homosexual acts entail health risks. Green also
wrote that heterosexual offenses are less objectionable because they could
lead to babies being born, and “same-sex relationships do not generally lead
to unwanted pregnancies.”
“It’s insane! It’s insane!” reacted Chris
Hampton, a spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Lesbian
and Gay Rights Projects. “The state is basically encouraging teen
The ACLU is representing Limon and told the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com
Network it plans to appeal Limon’s case to the Kansas Supreme Court.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Cheryl Jacques said
she hoped the ACLU would succeed.
“All people should be equal in the eyes of the law, yet
this decision upholds penalties that are designed to target gay and lesbian
people simply to show disapproval,” she said in a prepared statement.
“As the Supreme Court beautifully articulated in
Lawrence v. Texas, mere disapproval is never sufficient reason to treat people
differently simply for being gay,” she added. “We are hopeful that this
case will be correctly decided by the higher courts.”
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