ACLU Files Brief in Gay Oral Sex Case
PlanetOut.com Network, October 2, 2001
By Ann Rostow
SUMMARY: The ACLU has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of a
Kansas teen who has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for having gay oral
sex with another teen.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has weighed in with a
friend-of-the-court brief in the case of a Kansas teen who has been sentenced
to 17 years in prison for having oral sex with another teen at a boarding
school for developmentally disabled youth.
Matthew Limon had just turned 18 when he performed oral sex on another
resident, a boy on the verge of his 15th birthday.
In Kansas, heterosexual teens face mild penalties for consensual oral sex
under the "Romeo and Juliet Law." If the younger teen is between 14
and 16, and the older teen is no more than four years older, the punishment
for consensual oral sex is a year in prison. But when the teens are both the
same sex, the law doesnt apply.
"Matt Limon will be 36 years old by the time hes released, having
spent half of his life in prison," said Matt Coles, head of the ACLUs
Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "A heterosexual person would have been
released before turning 19."
Although Limon is represented by a public defender, the civil rights
watchdogs added their arguments to the court records, based on the Equal
Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Recently defined in an article by gay columnist and University of Minnesota
law professor Dale Carpenter, the principle behind the Equal Protection Clause
is that "when government policy treats one group of citizens differently
from another, it must have at least a rational justification for doing so.
Otherwise, the policy violates the requirement that everyone should get the
equal protection of the laws."
The ACLU does not seek to challenge the sex laws themselves, but only to
question "whether gay people should be punished more severely than
straight people for committing the same crime," said Coles. "We dont
think the Constitution allows that, and we hope this court wont
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