Oct. 24, 2005 – After spending four years in prison for having consensual sex with another boy, Matthew Limon, now 23, may soon be freed. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday that Limonâ€™s 17-year sentence was discriminatory because it was almost 16 years longer than Limon would have received if charged with having sex with a girl. In its ruling, the court struck down a clause of Kansasâ€™s controversial "Romeo and Juliet" statute.
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Limonâ€™s case threw a national spotlight on Kansasâ€™s conservative "sodomy" law. The law criminalizes any kind of sexual contact between children and adults, but provides lighter sentences when the sex is consensual, the minor is between fourteen and sixteen years old and the adult is younger than 19. Limon, who had just turned 18 when he was caught performing oral sex on a boy who had just turned 14, would have been eligible for a 15-month sentence under that provision. But the law had one more requirement: the teens must be of the opposite sex.
Civil liberties groups had decried that clause and the American Civil Liberties Union had taken Limonâ€™s case, challenging the Kansas law as a violation of the equal-protection clause of the US Constitution. After losses in state courts, the group appealed to the US Supreme Court, which in 2003 instructed the Kansas courts to reconsider the case in light of a Supreme Court ruling that same year striking down all same-sex-only sodomy laws.
Though it had ruled against Limon in the past, this time around, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in his favor on Friday, striking down the clause of the Kansas statute imposing harsher sentences for sodomy between same-sex couples.
The state has 30 days to appeal the ruling. If it does not appeal, Limon will likely be freed.