Last edited: May 31, 2004


Kansas High Court to Review Gay Teenís Case

PlanetOut, May 28, 2004

By Ann Rostow, PlanetOut Network

SUMMARY: The Kansas Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal on behalf of Matthew Limon, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison for an act of consensual oral sex with another male teenager.

A long-running fight on behalf of a Kansas teen may be entering the home stretch. On Thursday, the Kansas Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal on behalf of Matthew Limon, the young man who has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for an act of consensual oral sex with another male teenager.

Limonís lawsuit has already run its course through the state courts and reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where Limonís ACLU lawyers hoped the justices would agree to hear an appeal. But instead of reviewing the case, the nine justices sent the Limon case back to the Kansas Court of Appeals for reconsideration last summer, in view of their decision in Lawrence v. Texas. Observers widely expected the state appellate court to follow the legal analysis articulated in Lawrence, and rule that Matthew Limon could not be sanctioned so harshly for consensual gay sex.

Instead, the appellate court ignored the Lawrence precedent, ruling that the state of Kansas had every right to set draconian limits on underage gay sex. Under Kansas law, no one under 19 has the legal right to have sex, but authorities turn a blind eye to young lovers if they are heterosexual. A statute called the Romeo-and-Juliet law sets a maximum sentence of about a year in prison for straight kids who are repeatedly caught fooling around with their peers.

In Limonís case, he had previously been disciplined for a sexual encounter when he was caught having sex with a boy three years his junior. Just 18 at the time, Limon was charged as a repeat offender under adult felony statutes, and sentenced accordingly. He has already served over four years for his ďcrime,Ē and has about 13 years left.

After the latest ruling in January, the ACLU asked the state Supreme Court to review the case. Two years ago, when the case was first rising through the state system, the Kansas Supreme Court had refused to hear the appeal, letting the original appellate ruling stand. But this time, the justices agreed to hear the matter.

The decision may be a good sign for Limon and his lawyers, since the court would not have accepted review had the justices agreed with the appellate panel. Moreover, the composition of the seven-member high court has changed dramatically since the first round, with the appointment of three new justices last year by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.


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