Lonnie Latham

A Baptist minister arrested in January of 2006 for inviting an undercover male police officer to a hotel room for sexual activity was acquitted on March 7, 2007. The Rev. Lonnie Latham, a former board member of the Oklahoma Baptist Convention, had been charged with offering to engage in an act of lewdness. Oklahoma County District Judge Roma McElwee issued the acquittal following a brief trial.

Latham was represented in the criminal misdemeanor case by Mack Martin, an attorney in private practice. However, the ACLU National Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, with assistance from the ACLU of Oklahoma, became involved in the case last year by filing a friend-of-the-court brief. The ACLU’s brief argued that speaking with another adult of the same gender about non-commercial, consensual sex should not be a crime, since the sexual activity itself is constitutionally protected by the Lawrence v. Texas precedent.

“We applaud the court for acquitting Rev. Latham. As we have said since he was arrested, it is not a crime to have a conversation with someone about consensual sex,” said ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director Joann Bell about Judge McElwee’s verdict. “The Supreme Court has made it crystal clear that consenting adults are free to do what they wish in private. We hope this result sends a message to law enforcement personnel and the district attorney that this type of prosecution won’t fly.”

Kenneth Choe of the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project drafted the friend-of-the-court brief and reply to the prosecution in Latham’s case. Micheal Salem, a cooperating attorney in Norman, served as local counsel.