Friday, October 21, 2005

Kansas justices bar harsher terms for gay sex

This article appeared on today. This is so shocking it deserves way more then the usual WTF. With laws like this why would any gay person live in a red state.

Case involved gay male who got longer sentence for underage sex

Updated: 11:28 a.m. ET Oct. 21, 2005

TOPEKA, Kansas - In a case watched by national groups on both sides of the gay rights debate, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state may not punish illegal underage sex more harshly if it involves homosexual conduct.

The Supreme Court sided in a unanimous decision with convicted sex offender Matthew Limon. In 2000, he was sentenced to 17 years and two months in prison because, at 18, he performed a sex act on a 14-year-old boy. Had one of them been a girl, Limon could have faced only 15 months behind bars.

The court ordered Limon to be resentenced as if the law treated illegal gay sex and illegal straight sex the same, and it struck language from the law that resulted in the different treatment.

A lower court had said the state could justify the harsher punishment as protecting children's traditional development, fighting disease or strengthening traditional values.

Writing for the high court, Justice Marla Luckert said the Kansas law specifying harsher treatment for illegal gay sex is 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," Luckert wrote. "Moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate state interest."

Court records say his encounter with a boy identified only as M.A.R. was consensual, but Kansas law makes sex with someone under 16 illegal. Limon’s juvenile record had two similar offenses.

Had M.A.R. been a girl, the state's 1999 "Romeo and Juliet" law would have applied. It 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.

He and M.A.R. lived at a group home for the developmentally disabled. In court, an official described M.A.R. as mildly mentally retarded and Limon as functioning at a slightly higher level but not as an 18-year-old.


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