Last edited: April 03, 2004

Kansas Affirms Punitive Sodomy Law

Datalounge, January 30, 2004

TOPEKA, KS—A state court in Kansas, under orders from the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider a ruling that allowed harsher punishment of gay teenagers who engage in consensual sex, has reaffirmed the anti-gay law. Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline said Friday that the decision was a good one. He further suggested the ruling would prevent a future attack on the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.

This is the second time the Kansas Court of Appeals has upheld the 17-year prison sentence of a Matthew R. Limon, who at age 18, engaged in oral sex with a 14-year-old. For the same crime, if it had involved an act between an 18-year-old male and a 14-year-old girl, the sentence would have been 13 to 15 months.

The Limon case has been closely watched by national advocacy groups because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down laws criminalizing gay sex between consenting adults—including the law in Kansas. Judge Henry W. Green Jr. wrote in Friday’s 2-1 decision that legislators could justify differing penalties for homosexual and heterosexual sodomy in plenty of ways, including greater health risks or an attempt to “encourage and preserve the traditional sexual mores of society.”

Tamara Lange, an ACLU attorney representing Limon, said the case will likely proceed on appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court. “This decision is not a victory for morality or a victory for Kansas,” she said. “It’s a victory for prejudice and fear.”

“Any rational person who hears about the real facts of this case recognizes it’s completely unfair for Matthew Limon to be sitting in prison for 17 years for having a consensual sexual relationship,” Lange said.’

State Attorney General Kline said the decision preserved the Legislature’s right to set criminal sentencing policy. Calling Limon a serial child-molester at a press conference shortly after the decision was announced, he said, “I think sentencing of a period of years in that instance is appropriate.”

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