‘Missouri Gay Sex Ban Unconstitutional’ Lawyer
December 17, 2002
Kansas City, Missouri—The Lawyer for four of the
six men caught having sex in the back of an adult video store will ask a judge
this week to dismiss the charges. The men were charged under a rarely used
Missouri law banning sex between people of the same gender. A woman who also
was caught having sex at the store was freed because her conduct is not
illegal under Missouri law.
The raid, which occurred March 13 in High Ridge, 20 miles south of St.
Louis, was unconstitutional says Denise Lieberman, legal director for the
American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri.
That gays were targeted, while the heterosexual woman was not, illustrates
the inequity of the statute said Lieberman.
"The facts of this case point out the fundamental unfairness
here," said Lieberman. "All these folks were in this room, and only
some of them get charged."
Prosecutors have offered the men a chance to avoid going to trial by
accepting a lesser charge of disturbing the peace, which carries probation and
a fine, but it was rejected..
"It appears," Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Bob Wilkins
said, "they want to fight this."
Wilkins said he isn’t a prude or a homophobe; nor is he trying to
legislate morality. He said he merely is trying to stamp out "a health
hazard" _ open sexual activity at a public place. "I want to stop
the behavior," Wilkins said. "I don’t necessarily agree with the
statute. This isn’t something we’ve invented to harass gays."
Lieberman said the experience has been traumatic for her clients.
"These are people who live in small towns where everyone knows
them," she said. "One of our clients said two big guys threatened to
beat him up. One of the others has a wife who found out on TV."
Gay and lesbian sex is also illegal in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
Last month the US Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the Texas
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