Sunday, February 25, 2007

Where does a conservative go for protection from unfair prosecution? To a liberal group, of course.

So where does a gay-bashing, family-values pastor run when charged with soliciting an undercover policeman for, you know, gay sex?

To the liberal community who, without question, will defend his rights, of course.
The lawyer for a former Baptist church leader who had spoken out against homosexuality said Thursday the minister had a constitutional right to solicit sex from an undercover policeman.

Rev. Lonnie Latham supported a resolution calling on gays and lesbians to reject their "sinful, destructive lifestyle" before his Jan. 3, 2006, arrest outside the Habana Inn in Oklahoma City.

Authorities said he asked an undercover policeman to come up to his hotel for oral sex.

His lawyer, Mack Martin, filed a motion to have the misdemeanour lewdness charge thrown out, saying the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 2003 decision Lawrence v. Texas that it is not illegal for consenting adults to engage in private homosexual acts.

"Now, my client's being prosecuted basically for having offered to engage in such an act, which basically makes it a crime to ask someone to do something that's legal," Martin said.
Yup. Lonnie Latham, who was an executive member of the Southern Baptist Convention, has turned to his rights under the US constitution and is accepting the help of the American Civil Liberties Union in defending himself against the charges brought against him.

Latham, until his January, 2006 arrest, had supported the anti-gay policy of the Southern Baptist Convention calling a homosexual lifestyle "sinful" and "destructive". At the time, the ACLU would have vehemently disagreed.

Now Latham is relying on an attorney who is not afraid to argue that this is a violation of Latham's rights and the ACLU which will not standby and watch anyone get their rights trampled by unconstitutional and ridiculous laws.
Both sides agree there was no offer of money but prosecutor Scott Rowland said there is a "legitimate governmental interest" in regulating offers of acts of lewdness.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has filed a brief claiming Latham's arrest also violated his right to free speech.

Back when Latham was arrested PZ Myers commented:

My first thought wasn't that it was shocking that a Baptist anti-gay crusader wanted illicit sexual release, but to wonder that it is apparently illegal to simply ask for oral sex in Oklahoma. Is it coercive? Are Oklahomans all so flamingly gay (but repressed) that they can't just say no?

I say, Free Lonnie Latham! He's a martyr to the suppression of the rights of gay men in Oklahoma!

So, Lonnie Latham is now snuggled up to one of the groups the right-wing Christian dominionists despise - the ACLU.

And, let's hope Latham wins. The law under which Latham was charged is ludicrous. The "legitimate governmental interest" should be interesting to read, because if it is held up, there are going to be a lot of heterosexual adults who are going to have to start pussy-footing around the idea of consensual sex.

Latham just doesn't have the profile of some recently exposed hypocrites, but hopefully he'll remember where he found the advocates in defence of his civil and constitutional rights and be prepared to make loud and long with the truth.

His defenders didn't come from anything with the word "conservative" in it.

(Spelling error corrected.)

Juicy Bonus: Canadian Cynic in comments points out that other prominent right-wing whackjobs have benefited greatly from the direct assistance of the ACLU. As the ACLU stated back in 2004:

"For many people, it may seem odd that the ACLU has come to the defense of Rush Limbaugh," ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon said in a released statement.

"But we have always said that the ACLU's real client is the Bill of Rights, and we will continue to safeguard the values of equality, fairness and privacy for everyone, regardless of race, economic status or political point of view," Simon said.

Simon left out that the ACLU also defends mono-synaptic smear-merchants who target the ACLU with a vitriolic fervor which would lead any passing observer to believe the likes of Limbaugh is obsessed with destroying the ACLU. Before the ACLU came to his defence, he had a few things to say about them:

September 12th, 2003:
“If this guy had burned that flag,” Limbaugh said, “the ACLU and countless other groups would be down there supporting this guy’s right to desecrate old glory. But because he’s flying the American flag respectfully, none of the so-called civil libertarians makes a peep.

September 23rd, 2003:
“The ACLU has decided they’re not going to appeal the Ninth Circuit’s decision to reinstate the California re-call election... They must not really care all that much about you stupid minorities and poor people.

December 23rd, 2003:
“Where have all these so-called civil libertarians gone, the ACLU and the rest of them, claiming our government is overreaching?”

Of course, Limbaugh, who reached an "agreement" with the West Palm Beach district attorney over his illegal use of drugs, had a view, while he was using drugs, on how others should be treated for illegal drug use.

“Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. ... And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.”
Limbaugh never did get "sent up".

I'm sure cases like Latham's and Limbaugh's abound. Feel free to accumulate them in comments.

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