Thursday, May 16, 2002

Ohio high court strikes down same-sex solicitation law

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A unanimous Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a state law prohibiting same-sex solicitation.

        Justice Deborah Cook, writing for the majority, said the law violated the equal protection guarantees of the United States and Ohio constitutions.

        Ms. Cook said the law's effect was to limit one type of expression, namely “offensive same-sex solicitations,” while allowing equally offensive solicitations between opposite sexes.

        On that basis, the 7-0 ruling found that the law is invalid because it is a content-based restriction on speech.

        The decision overturned an appeals court ruling that upheld the conviction of an Ashtabula County man on a charge of soliciting sex from a male jogger.

        Eric Thompson appealed his conviction, arguing that the law violated the constitutional guarantees of equal protection.

        The 11th District Court of Appeals said it had followed a 1979 Ohio Supreme Court decision that had upheld the law.

        That decision said a person could be arrested if the person knew the solicitation could cause injury or provoke violence.

        Preventing the risk of violent responses could have been achieved “by prohibiting all offensive solicitations of sexual activity,” Justice Cook wrote.


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