LGBT (News) The Limon case decided...

Discussion in 'Lifestyle' started by CoCo, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. CoCo

    CoCo a Queer Don!! OT Supporter

    Jan 14, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Maryland ; the land of Mary's...
    Supreme Court Rules Kan. Can't Single Out Gay Sex
    By JOHN HANNA, Associated Press Writer
    Fri Oct 21, 2005

    TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday unanimously struck down a state law that punished underage sex more severely if it involved homosexual acts, saying "moral disapproval" of such conduct is not enough to justify the different treatment.

    In a case closely watched by national groups on all sides of the gay rights debate, the high court said the law "suggests animus toward teenagers who engage in homosexual sex."

    Gay rights groups praised the ruling, while conservatives bitterly complained that the court intruded on the Legislature's authority to make the laws.

    The case involved an 18-year-old man, Matthew R. Limon, who was found guilty in 2000 of performing a sex act on a 14-year-old boy and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Had one of them been a girl, state law would have dictated a maximum sentence of 15 months.

    The high court ordered that Limon be resentenced as if the law treated illegal gay sex and illegal straight sex the same. He has already served more than five years.

    Limon's lawyer, James Esseks of the American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, said: "We are very happy that Matthew will soon be getting out of prison. We are sorry there is no way to make up for the extra four years he spent in prison simply because he is gay."

    Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline said in a statement that he does not plan to appeal.

    A lower court had ruled that the state could justify the harsher punishment as a way of protecting children's traditional development, fighting disease or strengthening traditional values. But the Supreme Court said the law was too broad to meet those goals.

    "The statute inflicts immediate, continuing and real injuries that outrun and belie any legitimate justification that may be claimed for it," Justice Marla Luckert wrote for the court. "Moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate state interest."

    The Kansas court also cited the landmark 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a Texas law against gay sodomy.

    Limon and the other boy, identified only as M.A.R., lived at a group home for the developmentally disabled. Limon's attorneys described their relationship as consensual and suggested that they were adolescents experimenting with sex.

    Kline's office described Limon as a predator with two previous such offenses on his record. Kline contended that such a behavior pattern warranted a tough sentence and that courts should leave sentencing policy to the Legislature.

    Kansas law prohibits any sexual activity involving a person under 16.
    However, the state's 1999 "Romeo and Juliet" law specifies short prison sentences or probation for sexual activity when an offender is under 19 and the age difference between participants is less than four years — but only for opposite-sex encounters.

    Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said the Texas decision and Friday's ruling "shore up the principle that gay people are entitled to equal protection."

    "But no one's quite sure how firm that foundation is," he said.
    Mathew Staver, attorney for the conservative Orlando, Fla.-based Liberty Counsel, said the different treatment was justified by the state's interest in protecting children and families. He also said the court does not have the right to rewrite the statute.

    "That's a legislative function," he said. "This is clearly a sign of an activist court system."

    Patricia Logue, a senior counsel for the gay rights organization Lambda Legal, said she hopes the decision will slow efforts in various states to enact legislation targeting gays. "A lot of the reasoning used here by the state comes up again and again," she said. "What the court is saying is, `If you've got a better reason, you would have told us by now. The ones you've come up with are not good enough, and they amount to not liking gay people.'"

    Link =>;_ylt=AhHfDIX606lgX4M6kvbpJXDsbr8F;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b2NibDltBHNlYwM3MTY-

Share This Page