Judge asked to overturn ‘gay sex’ offender registration
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge in Montana is considering the case of a man who asked that he no longer be required to register as a sex offender in Montana for having had consensual homosexual sex in Idaho when he was 18 years old.
Randall Menges, 45, argues the registration requirement for violating laws that have been ruled unconstitutional has ruined job opportunities and relationships and limited where he can live.
“Society just wanted me to disappear into thin air,” Menges told the Missoulian.
Menges was convicted in 1994 under Idaho’s crimes against nature law and served seven years in state prison followed by probation.
He moved to Montana after discharging his sentence, where he was required to register as a sex offender under a law that states anyone required to register as a sex offender in one state has to register as an offender in Montana.
Assistant Attorney General Hannah Tokerud argued Tuesday, in a hearing before U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula, that the case did not hinge on whether Menges was convicted for having had consensual sex, but on whether he is required to register as a sex offender in Idaho.
Menges’ attorney, Matthew Strugar, argued that Montana is trying to “pass the buck” to another state while enforcing an unconstitutional registration requirement. Strugar asked Christensen to stop requiring Menges to register, remove his name from the offender list and delete any state records related to his conviction.
Christensen said he would get a ruling out quickly in the lawsuit that Menges filed in December 2020.
“This case involves the lingering effects of centuries of homophobic ‘sodomy’ prohibitions,” Strugar wrote in the original complaint.
In July 1997, the Montana Supreme Court held that a state law that criminalized sexual contact or sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex to be an unconstitutional violation of a person’s right to individual privacy.
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court found that sodomy laws, which typically ban oral and anal sex, are unconstitutional. In 2013, Montana’s Legislature got rid of the law that categorized gay sex as being “deviant sexual relations.”
Strugar and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing Idaho over its law that criminalizes oral and anal sex. Menges is a plaintiff in that case, the newspaper reported.