Social Workers Argue for Jailed Gay Teen
August 9, 2004
By 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Topeka, Kansas—The National
Association of Social Workers (NASW) and its Kansas chapter today called on
the Kansas Supreme Court to reverse the conviction of a teenager who is
serving a prison sentence 13 times longer than he would have received if he
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.
The Kansas Supreme Court agreed last month to hear the
case after the Kansas Court of Appeals upheld the conviction in January.
Limon’s case had landed back before the lower court after the U.S. Supreme
Court ordered it to reconsider the matter in light of the Supreme Court’s
decision last summer in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down all same-sex-only
“The state claims that the much harsher sentence
Matthew Limon received is justified for reasons that we as social workers know
aren’t valid,” said Dorthy Stucky Halley, president of the Kansas chapter
of the NASW. She added, “One’s sexual orientation could never justify 16
additional years in jail.”
In a friend of the court brief, the 153,000 member
organization of professional social workers attacks the state’s claims that
the length of Limon’s sentence is justified because young people who engage
in same-sex intimacy are so impressionable that they may be swayed into
becoming gay. The NASW brief points to social science evidence that same-sex
attractions surface much earlier in life—well before puberty—and that one
gay sexual experience can’t make someone “turn” gay.
In June the ACLU also filed a similar brief on Limon’s
behalf. The brief argues that the “Romeo and Juliet” law violates the U.S.
Constitution’s equal protection guarantees.
The court has given no indication when it might deliver a
ruling in the case.
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