Connecticut law on sexual assault struck down for allowing gay sex

BY admin

April 07 2006 12:00 AM ET

A state appellate
court in Hartford, Conn., ruled Wednesday that a
statute on sexual assault involving stepchildren is
unconstitutional because it seems to endorse gay
relationships. The court's decision, overturning
the third-degree sexual assault conviction of a New
Haven man, said the statute violated the 14th Amendment of
the U.S. Constitution, dealing with equal protection.

The court ruled
that the state law barring a stepparent from having sex
with a stepchild of the opposite sex who is over 16 years
old violates equal protection rights because the state
statute language does not prohibit the same
relationship with a stepchild of the same sex. "Under
[the statute], sexual intercourse between a stepfather and
stepdaughter is prohibited, but sexual intercourse between a
stepfather and stepson is not," appellate court judge
William J. Lavery wrote. "We can conceive of no
rational basis for that distinction."

The appeals court
had overturned the conviction of the man, referred to
only as John M., ruling there was not enough evidence that
his wife was the girl's biological mother, making him
a stepfather. However, it went a step further in
ruling that the sexual assault standard does not mention
same-sex relationships and therefore is unequal.

Judge Barry R.
Schaller agreed with the decision to overturn the
conviction, but wrote in a separate opinion that his
colleagues on the appellate court went too far in
ruling the statute unconstitutional. "As a reviewing
court, our obligation is clearly to avoid unnecessary
constitutional adjudication." Schaller wrote, adding, "Our
supreme court expressly has instructed that appellate courts
should avoid deciding constitutional issues where
possible." (AP)

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