The Kansas Appeals Court has ruled that it’s OK to give different sentences to two offenders who committed sex with a minor. The difference between the two? One was with the opposite sex, one with the same sex. From the ACLU:
The two-to-one decision from the Kansas Court of Appeals today upholds the state’s “Romeo and Juliet” law, which gives much lighter sentences to heterosexual teenagers who have sex with younger teens, but specifically excludes gay teenagers. In its decision, the Court gave three explanations for sentencing gays so much more severely: that doing so will reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, that doing so encourages “traditional sexual mores,” and that doing so promotes procreation and marriage.
“The Court’s reasons for approving this law are absurd,” said Tamara Lange, Limon’s attorney from the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. “All young people should be entitled to protection from sexually transmitted diseases, and punishing gay kids more harshly ‘protects’ no one. The Supreme Court made it very clear that ‘traditional sexual mores’ are no longer a legitimate rationale for discriminating against gay people. To suggest that the state should give straight men a lighter sentence to encourage them to marry the 14- and 15-year-old girls they impregnate and support the children that result from their crimes is incomprehensible.”
Matthew Limon is currently serving 17 years in prison, instead of the 13 to 15 months he would have faced if he were heterosexual. The Kansas law makes sexual relations with a minor a lesser crime if both people are teens, but it only applies to opposite-sex relations. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated Limon’s conviction and instructed the Kansas Court of Appeals to give it further consideration in light of the historic ruling on sexual intimacy in Lawrence v. Texas. The “Romeo and Juliet” law, like the overturned Texas sodomy law, treats the sexual conduct of lesbian and gay people differently.
There’s background to this case here. It points out some facts I didn’t know, such as that Limon has “mild mental retardation” and this event happened at a residential school for the developmentally disabled.
Had this been an adult male having sex with an underage male, then I’d definitely be in favor of equalizing the sentences… but in the other direction. I think both the same sex and opposite sex offenders should serve 17 years in prison. Why is the opposite sex offender getting off so easy (pun intended)?
Another interesting disparity: in Germany, the horrifying story of a gay man who killed another willing man and ate him has come to an end with a court conviction of manslaughter and a sentence of 8 years! I can’t decide if our courts are too harsh, or if the German courts aren’t harsh enough. Matthew Limon should have killed and snacked on the guy, his sentence would have been less than half.