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Matthew Limon was a mentally disabled 17-year-old when he had consensual sex with a 14-year-old boy.Under the Romeo and Juliet law enacted in Kansas in 1999, Limon would have been sentenced to 15 months in prison if the boy had been a girl.But in many states across America, from a legal standpoint, there’s little distinction between Romeo and Juliet's mutual decision and the abusive actions of a child molester.An older teen who has sex with his younger girlfriend can be arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for the act.In general, most states make it a felony crime to have sex with a person under a particular age of consent.

Then as now, two teenagers having consensual sex is perfectly understandable.

For teenagers who are gay or lesbian and engage in consensual sex, the laws are much tougher.

A 2004 case heard by the Kansas Supreme Court had civil libertarians and gay rights groups protesting the existence of a double standard.

(Even Romeo would be labeled a sex offender today, as he was believed to be 16 and Juliet 13 when their relationship began.) Though the age of consent (i.e.

the age at which an individual can legally agree to have sex) varies from state to state—and often splits along gender lines—it is definitive in one aspect: it refers to sexual acts between heterosexuals.

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