Last edited: February 14, 2005

‘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 sodomy law.

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