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Sodomy laws that labeled gay people sex offenders challenged in court

Nearly 20 years after the Supreme Court struck down laws criminalizing consensual same-sex activity, the legacy of sodomy bans is still felt across the United States.

In 1993, then-18-year-old Randall Menges was charged under Idaho’s “crimes against nature” law for having sex with two 16-year-old males. All three worked and lived at Pratt Ranch, a cattle ranch in Gem County that doubled as a live-in foster program for troubled teenagers.

Menges was convicted despite police reports indicating the activity was consensual, and the age of consent in Idaho when a defendant is 18 is 16 years old. After serving seven years in prison, he was placed on probation and required to register as a sex offender.

Today, what Menges did wouldn’t be considered an arrestable offense. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that laws criminalizing consensual sodomy or oral sex were unconstitutional. But Idaho still requires people convicted of sodomy or oral sex before the Lawrence v. Texas ruling to be on the state sex offender registry.

His attorney, Matt Strugar, has challenged a similar statue in Mississippi and is representing Menges and a John Doe in a suit against Idaho’s sodomy ban.

Idaho, South Carolina and Mississippi still require people who were convicted of consensual sodomy before the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence to register as sex offenders, Strugar said, even though the court said what they did wasn’t a crime. There are probably hundreds of people in Menges’ predicament, and forcing them to register as sex offenders is a violation of their right to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment, he added.

“I’m outraged that in 2021 that we have what is essentially a registry of gay sex,” Strugar said.

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by Anonymousreply 1Last Wednesday at 9:21 AM

This is horrible

by Anonymousreply 1Last Wednesday at 9:21 AM
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