Matthew Limon Petitions High Court
The Data Lounge,
January 17, 2003
TOPEKA, Ks.—Matthew Limon, a resident at a school
for developmentally disabled young people, turned 18 in February of 2000 and
sometime later, engaged in sexual activity with a boy three years his junior.
By all accounts, there was no violence, aggression or coercion involved;
both parties were willing participants. But because the younger teen was not
yet 15, Limon’s actions were considered criminal sodomy by the state of
Had Limon been so engaged with a 14-year-old girl, he would have been in
some trouble, facing a maximum sentence of some 15 months in prison. But
because he was with another boy, young Matthew Limon’s crime was far more
serious—he was sentenced to 17 years in prison.
Limon, who has already served three years of his term, is not challenging
whether Kansas has the right to punish older teens for having sex with younger
teens, says his lawyer, ACLU staff attorney Tamara Lange. "The unfairness
in the Kansas rules is what he’s challenging," she said.
The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether to hear arguments in Limon’s
The court has already agreed to hear a challenge to a Texas law that hands
out stiffer penalties to gay people than heterosexuals for committing sodomy.
With this case, the court will take another look at its 1986 decision in Bowers
v. Hardwick that said the Constitution did not protect the rights of gays
and lesbians to engage in sex in the privacy of their homes.
If the court also agrees to hear the Limon case, the decisions in both
cases could amount to the most monumental rulings the high court has issued in
the area of gay rights certainly since Bowers.
While rulings in either case could have significant consequences for the
legal status of gays and lesbians in the United States, Limon has much more at
stake than the plaintiffs in the Texas case. If the high court does not
overturn the Kansas law that Limon in prison, he will remain there until he is
35 years old.
Scott Lively, director of the Pro-Family Law Center in California told ABC
News it was a matter of the greater social good. "We feel sympathy for a
young person facing a long prison sentence for this kind of act," he
said, "but should that justify overruling a principle of law that has
benefits for society?"
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