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Ex- Baptist church leader's attorney: Minister had a right to solicit sex from an undercover policeman

The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY | The attorney for a former Baptist church leader who had spoken out against homosexuality said Thursday that the minister has a constitutional right to solicit sex from an undercover policeman.

The Rev. Lonnie W. Latham had 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 allege that Latham asked the undercover policeman to come up to his hotel for oral sex.

Latham’s attorney, Mack Martin, filed a motion to have the misdemeanor lewdness charge thrown out, saying the Supreme Court ruled in the 2003 decision Lawrence v. Texas that it was 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.

Both sides agree that 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 alleging that Latham’s arrest also violated his right to free speech.

Before his arrest, Latham had spoken against same-sex marriage.

He has since resigned as pastor of the South Tulsa Baptist Church and stepped down from the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, where he was one of four members from Oklahoma.

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