Last edited: February 14, 2005

Sodomy Law Faces Challenge in Missouri

The Data Lounge, December 18, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The arrest of six men and one woman in a Missouri adult theater last March could result in the strongest legal challenge ever presented against Missouri’s sodomy law, the Kansas City Star reports. All six men in the case were charged with violating the state’s sexual misconduct statute, but the woman was allowed to go free. The inequity of the law and its application are what civil rights advocates hope to prove in overturning the statute.

Missouri is one of only four states—Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas are the others—that specifically outlaws gay sex.

"The facts of this case point out the fundamental unfairness here," said Denise Lieberman, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, which is representing four of the men. "All these folks were in this room, and only some of them get charged...

"Basically," she said, "you’re a criminal based only on your sexual orientation."

The ACLU and gay-rights groups are encouraged by news this month that the U.S. Supreme Court plans to decide whether such laws are constitutional. The high court said it will review the prosecution of two men in Texas, which could have implications for laws in 13 states—nine that ban sodomy for everyone, and the four that punish only same-sex sodomy.

Prosecutors have offered the men a chance to avoid going to trial by accepting a lesser charge: disturbing the peace, which carries probation and a fine. But last week the ACLU’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that Missouri’s sodomy law is unconstitutional.

"It appears," Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Bob Wilkins said, "they want to fight this."

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