Nixon Disagrees with State Ban on Gay Sex
Attorney General Says His Job Demands He Defend Law After Court Ruling
Columbus Daily Tribune, August 22, 1999
Box 798, Columbia, MO 65205
Fax: 573 815-1701
By Rudi Keller, of the Tribunes staff
Attorney general Jay Nixons court battle to preserve Missouris law against
homosexual acts isnt a reflection of his views on whether the law is just, he said
Meanwhile, the conservative Republican lawmaker responsible for keeping the ban in
place is watching the case to determine whether action will be necessary next year to
preserve the law.
Nixon, who in court filings has called upon the Western District Court of Appeals to
revise its ruling in a sexual misconduct case, said last week he doesnt believe
homosexual acts should be illegal.
"Sex between consenting adults should not be a crime, regardless of the sex of the
people involved," Nixon said. He added that his role is to defend the law, regardless
of whether he likes it.
The appeals court ruled in early July that a Jackson County man was wrongly convicted
of first-degree sexual misconduct for acts involving a 13-year-old boy because evidence
showed the acts were consensual. Gay rights groups interpreted the ruling to mean that
activities prohibited by the misdemeanor misconduct law, including homosexual acts, are
legal if both parties consent.
Nixon said it was appropriate to ask the court to clarify its ruling despite his
"My assistants regularly file motions seeking clarifications," he said.
"There is clearly a legal question here."
The question Nixons office wants answered is whether a consent clause in the
sexual misconduct statute applies to all three activities it covers. In addition to
homosexual acts, the law bans sexual contact defined as touching another person
with fingers, tongue or genitals to gain arousal or touching that would be sexual
contact except that it occurs through clothing.
A clause at the end of the law adds "without their consent."
In the Jackson County case, William Cogshell was convicted for "sexual
contact" with the teen. In the court filings, Nixons office wants the court to
clarify that the consent clause applies to the sexual contact portion of the law and not
the homosexuality ban.
Asking the court to modify its ruling is a duty, not a choice, Nixon said. "We
defend all the laws, even the ones I dont agree with. I took an oath to support the
laws and constitution of the state."
The first-degree sexual misconduct law was passed in 1994. The original proposal, part
of a comprehensive rewriting of all sex crimes, eliminated the ban on homosexual conduct.
But Sen. Larry Rohrbach, R-California, restored the ban during committee work. He
supports Nixons actions.
"It is fairly clear that the legislative intent was to leave the homosexuality
part alone," he said.
If the court declines to revise its ruling, Rohrbach said, lawmakers might have to take
"It could be clarified, there is no doubt."
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