'A Registry of Gay Sex' Fought in Montana Court Battle

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday April 8, 2021

Randall Menges
Randall Menges  (Source:Randall Menges)

A man forced onto a state sex offenders registry in Idaho for having sex with two other males is fighting to be taken off that registry decades after a Supreme Court ruling said his "offense" was not a crime, NBC News reports.

"In 1993, then-18-year-old Randall Menges was charged under Idaho's 'crimes against nature' law for having sex with two 16-year-old males," the story reported.

"Menges was convicted despite police reports indicating the activity was consensual, and the age of consent in Idaho when a defendant is 18 is 16 years old. After serving seven years in prison, he was placed on probation and required to register as a sex offender."

In 2003, a decade after his arrest for consensual sex with men old enough to have legally consented, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws like the one that cost Menges seven years in prison with its ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, the article recalled.

Even so, "Idaho still requires people convicted of sodomy or oral sex before the Lawrence v. Texas ruling to be on the state sex offender registry," NBC News noted. So do South Carolina and Mississippi.

That leaves Menges and people like him in the paradoxical bind of not having committed an offense, and yet being required to remain on registries for sexual offenders.

That Idaho law destroyed the life Menges was rebuilding in Montana, because Montana state law requires that "individuals on a registry in another state must register as sex offenders if they move to Montana," the news article explained.

Menges is fighting that Montana statute.

"I'm outraged that in 2021 that we have what is essentially a registry of gay sex," Menges' attorney, Matt Strugar, told NBC News.

But Montana's legal counsel disputed Menges' claim, writing in a motion to dismiss his case that "Montana requires Menges to register not because of his criminal offense, but because Montana gives credit to other states' determinations about convicted offenders who are required to register."

Strugar called that argument an attempt to "pass the buck," NBC News reported.

As for Menges, while it's too late to have the original "offense" expunged from his record, he sticks to his argument that he should not be forced onto a sexual offenders registry for something that is not longer legally an offense.

"If someone's not a molester or a rapist, they shouldn't be subjected to what I have," he pointed out.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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