COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 15 (UPI) -- The Ohio Supreme Court Wednesday overturned a law barring same sex solicitation, saying it violates the equal protection clauses of both the Ohio and U.S. constitutions.
The ruling stemmed from the arrest of Eric Thompson, who was convicted of importuning. He had solicited a male jogger to perform a sexual act. The court decision overturns Thompson's conviction.
The law specifies no "person shall solicit a person of the same sex to engage in sexual activity with the offender when the offender knows such solicitation is offensive to the other person or is reckless in that regard." The law also says "solicitation of homosexual or lesbian activity is also prohibited" but adds that "just asking" is not a criminal offense.
The court recognized the statute was aimed at preventing a violent response to words an individual could find repugnant but found such words fall short of the "fighting words" that can be prohibited.
Instead, the court said, the Legislature should have prohibited "all offensive solicitations of sexual activity."
"The mere assertion of a content-neutral purpose (for the law is not) enough to save a law which, on its face, discriminates based on content," the court said.
In a concurring opinion, Judge Paul Pfeifer said his colleagues failed to address the central issue of the case: that the law actually is aimed at outlawing homosexual activity.