ACLU Applauds Unanimous Kansas Supreme Court Decision Reversing Conviction of Gay Teen Unfairly Punished under Romeo and Juliet Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 21, 2005
TOPEKA, KS The Kansas Supreme Court today unanimously struck down part of a law that sent a gay teenager to prison for over 17 years, when a heterosexual teen would have served only 15 months for the same act. The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Matthew Limon in his appeal, applauded the decision declaring that Kansass so-called Romeo and Juliet law violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
As of today, Matthew Limon has already served four years and five months longer than a heterosexual teenager would have received for the same act. He has long since paid his debt to society, and were thrilled that he will be going home to his family soon, said Lisa Brunner of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouris LGBT Task Force. Justice has been a long time coming in this case.
Todays decision vacates Limons sentence and conviction and declares the part of the Romeo and Juliet law that treats gay teens differently from heterosexual teens to be unconstitutional. The case has a long history. The ACLU appealed Limons sentence and conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Kansas Court of Appeals to reconsider the matter in light of the decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down all same-sex-only sodomy laws. After the Kansas Court of Appeals narrowly upheld the conviction early last year, the Kansas Supreme Court heard the case in August of 2004.
Our Constitution demands equal protection for all citizens, and there is nothing equal about the way the state of Kansas has treated Matthew Limon until today, said Tamara Lange, a staff attorney with the ACLUs Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, which handled Limons appeal before the Kansas Supreme Court. This decision makes the state of Kansas a fairer place for all its citizens.
Limon is represented by the ACLUs Lesbian & Gay Rights Project and cooperating attorney Paige Nichols of Lawrence, Kansas.
Todays decision is available online at: http://www.kscourts.org/kscases/supct/2005/20051021/85898.htm
A backgrounder and other information about the case are available online at: http://www.aclu.org/LesbianGayRights/LesbianGayRights.cfm?ID=17682&c=100
This article by Kansas Citys The Pitch newspaper has further background information on the case: http://www.pitch.com/issues/2004-01-22/feature.html/1/index.html
American Civil Liberties Union of
Kansas and Western Missouri