Kansas Supreme Court to Hear Appeal of Imprisoned Gay Teen Case
May 27, 2004
By 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Topeka, Kansas—The Kansas Supreme
Court Thursday agreed to hear an appeal in the case of a gay teenager who was
sentenced to 17 years in prison for consensual sex.
Matthew Limon is appealing a 206-month prison sentence he
received shortly after turning 18 because while he was a resident at a private
school for developmentally disabled youth he performed consensual oral sex on
Limon would have served a maximum of 15 months in jail
under the Kansas law had the other teenager been female. But because the
state’s “Romeo and Juliet” law applies only to heterosexuals, Limon was
convicted under the much harsher state sodomy law.
Under the Kansas law, consensual oral sex between two
teens is a lesser crime if the younger teenager is 14 to 16 years old, if the
older teenager is under 19, if the age difference is less than four years, if
the sex is consensual, if there are no third parties involved, and if the two
teenagers “are members of the opposite sex.”
Limon has already been in prison for four years and three
months—three and a half times longer than the maximum sentence he would have
received if he were heterosexual.
“The only reason Matthew Limon is still in prison today
is because he’s gay,” said Tamara Lange, a staff attorney with the ACLU
Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, which represents Limon.
“The Kansas Supreme Court has an opportunity to correct
the grave injustice that has been done to this young man and the mockery that
his sentence makes of the equal protection guarantees in the Constitution,”
This is the second time that his case has been sent to
the Kansas Supreme Court for review.
The first time, in July of 2002, the court refused to
consider Limon’s case and the ACLU asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear it.
The High Court sent the case back to a Kansas appeals court, ordering it to
reconsider in light of its decision last summer in Lawrence v. Texas, which
struck down same-sex-only sodomy laws. In January, the appeals court again
upheld Limon’s conviction.
The earliest that the Kansas Supreme Court is likely to
hear arguments in the case will be in August.
“Because he had sex with another male, Matthew Limon
will be in prison until he’s 35 years old,” said Dick Kurtenbach,
Executive Director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri.
“For Kansas to sentence a gay person 13 times more
harshly than it would a heterosexual for the same offense is clearly
unconstitutional, and we’re pleased the Court is willing to reconsider this
young man’s sentence,” Kurtenbach said.
[Home] [News] [Kansas]