OKLAHOMA CITY – The lawyer for a former Baptist church leader who had spoken out against homosexuality said Thursday the minister has a constitutional right to solicit sex from an undercover policeman.
The Rev. Lonnie W. Latham had supported a resolution calling on gays and lesbians to reject their "sinful, destructive lifestyle" before his Jan. 3, 2006, arrest outside the Habana Inn in Oklahoma City.
Authorities say he asked the undercover policeman to come up to his hotel for oral sex.
His attorney, Mack Martin, filed a motion to have the misdemeanor lewdness charge thrown out, saying the Supreme Court ruled in the 2003 decision Lawrence v. Texas that it was not illegal for consenting adults to engage in private homosexual acts.
"Now, my client's being prosecuted basically for having offered to engage in such an act, which basically makes it a crime to ask someone to do something that's legal," Martin said.
Both sides agree there was no offer of money, but prosecutor Scott Rowland said there is a "legitimate governmental interest" in regulating offers of acts of lewdness.
Before his arrest, Latham had spoken against same-sex marriage and in support of a Southern Baptist resolution that called upon gays and lesbians to reject their lifestyle.
He has since resigned as pastor of the South Tulsa Baptist Church and stepped down from the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, where he was one of four members from Oklahoma.
On Thursday Latham declined to talk to reporters at the non-jury trial.
Judge Roma M. McElwee said she would rule on the motion and issue a verdict in about two weeks. If convicted of the misdemeanor, Latham faces up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.