February 1, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief today urging an Oklahoma court to dismiss charges against a Southern Baptist minister who was arrested for soliciting private sex with another male.

“The Supreme Court has made it crystal clear that, when it comes to their sex lives, consenting adults are free to do whatever they please in private,” said Joann Bell, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma.  “According to the police report, Rev. Latham did nothing more than invite another man to his hotel room for consensual sex.  It is not a crime merely to invite someone to have completely lawful sex.  If it were otherwise, every bar in the state may as well shut its doors.”

The Reverend Dr. Lonnie Latham was arrested on January 3, 2006, on the misdemeanor charge of “Offering to Engage in an Act of Lewdness.”  According to the police report, he approached a male plainclothes police officer and invited the officer back to his hotel room for oral sex.  It is not alleged that Latham offered money in exchange for the sex act. 

The brief filed today in the District Court of Oklahoma County argues that charges should be dismissed against Latham because non-commercial sex between consenting adults in private is a constitutionally protected activity.  According to the ACLU it is a violation of the Constitution’s free speech guarantee for the state to criminalize speech that is merely an invitation to engage in lawful behavior. 

Latham’s arrest, which generated a significant amount of media attention, forced him to resign from his position as a board member of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

To view the legal documents filed by the ACLU in the case, visit www.aclu.org/lgbt/discrim/24027lgl20060201.html

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