Gay, Lesbian Advocates Dismayed by Ruling
Capital-Journal, January 31, 2004
616 SE Jefferson Street, Topeka, KS 66607
By Carl Manning, The Associated Press
Supporters of gay and lesbian rights expressed
disappointment Friday with an appeals court’s ruling that having sex with
children can be punished more harshly when it involves homosexual acts, while
those who support Kansas’ anti-sodomy law praised the decision.
In its 2-1 decision, the Kansas Court of Appeals upheld
the sentence of more than 17 years for Matthew R. Limon for having sex with an
underage boy in 2000. Had his victim been an underage girl, he would have
faced no more than one year and three months behind bars.
“There is a rational basis to make a difference between
heterosexual crime and homosexual crime, dealing with the impact of the crime
on the victim,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the
Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More Law Center.
But Susan Sommer, attorney for Lambda Legal in New York,
said, “This is incredibly disappointing and I hope it is going to be a
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented
Limon, planned to appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court.
It is the second time the appeals court upheld Limon’s
sentence. It did so first in 2002, but the U.S. Supreme Court returned the
case in June after it struck down laws banning gay sex between consenting
The ACLU had hoped the appeals court would declare the
difference in sentencing represented unconstitutional discrimination. But the
judges said the Supreme Court decision didn’t apply to sex acts involving
They said legislators could justify differing penalties
for heterosexual versus homosexual sodomy in plenty of ways, including higher
health risks or an attempt to “encourage and preserve the traditional sexual
mores of society.”
Sommer, on the winning side of Supreme Court case, said,
“These are the kinds of archaic arguments that had been trotted out in the
past to justify sodomy laws and other forms of discrimination.”
Attorney General Phill Kline, whose office fought to keep
Limon in prison, said the decision upholds lawmakers’ authority to enact
legislation based on morality.
“Not only did we win a victory as it relates to the
Legislature and their authority in sentencing, but we also won a broad victory
in protecting the institution of marriage, as well as protecting laws which
serve to protect children from predatory sexual behavior,” he said.
Thompson agreed the court was correct, adding that “the
Legislature developed this difference in punishment because they wanted to
discourage behavior between adults and children that deviates from our
society’s traditional sexual mores.”
Mike Farmer, Kansas Catholic Conference executive
director, said he was pleased with the ruling, adding, “The church always
has felt that sex outside of marriage is wrong. It is a very clear teaching of
Tiffany Muller, who heads the Equal Justice Coalition in
Topeka, said she was shocked by the decision.
“This is a chance for Kansas to review the law and have
it apply fairly and equally to all people, and I’m disappointed they
didn’t take advantage of that opportunity,” Muller said.
Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
executive director, called the ruling “appalling, illogical and hateful.”
“There is no way to explain this decision other than
profound disdain and contempt for gay people,” he said. “I am really
shocked that in this day and age a court of appeals could issue a decision
like this, especially in light of the Supreme Court decision.”
[Home] [News] [Kansas]