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ACLU defends
Oklahoma minister arrested for soliciting sex

ACLU defends
Oklahoma minister arrested for soliciting sex

A Southern Baptist preacher who solicited sex from a male police officer did nothing wrong, the ACLU says.

Charges against an antigay Southern Baptist minister arrested for soliciting sex from a male police officer in Oklahoma should be dropped on constitutional grounds, says the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Wednesday in an effort to dismiss the case against 60-year-old pastor Lonnie Latham, arrested in January on a misdemeanor charge of "offering to engage in an act of lewdness" with an undercover police officer. Latham invited the officer up to his Oklahoma City motel room for oral sex but did not offer money for the act, according to the police report.

"The Supreme Court [via the Lawrence v. Texas decision] had 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. "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."

Latham could face a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 if convicted. After being released from jail on a $500 bond January 4, Latham made to reporters the now seemingly contradictory statement of "I was set up. I was in the area pastoring to police."

Following his arrest, Latham resigned as senior pastor from South Tulsa Baptist Church. According to the Associated Press, Latham has spoken out against same-sex marriage and in support of a directive urging the Southern Baptist Convention's 42,000 churches to befriend gays and lesbians and try to convince them they can become straight "if they accept Jesus Christ as their savior and reject their sinful, destructive lifestyle." (Advocate.com)

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