A former Southern Baptist church leader who had publicly condemned homosexuality has been charged for offering to engage in an act of lewdness after soliciting sex from an undercover policeman in Oklahoma.

The Reverend Lonnie Latham was arrested on January 3rd 2006 outside the Habana Inn in Oklahoma City after asking an undercover policeman to come up to his hotel room for oral sex.

He was detained in Oklahoma County Jail where he was charged with a misdemeanour lewdness charge.

His lawyer, Mack Martin, has issued a motion that would remove the charge.

As a basis for his motion he is using a Supreme Court verdict in 2003 which ruled 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.

Prior to his arrest, Laam had been known to speak out against same-sex marriage.

According to Associated Press he also supported a Southern Baptist directive that urged church members to persuade gay and lesbians that they could become heterosexual.

However, Scott Rowland, the prosecuting lawyer, said there is a legitimate governmental interest in regulating the offering of acts of lewdness.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has also filed a brief. The group claims that Latham’s arrest violated his right to free speech.

Latham has resigned as pastor of the South Tulsa Baptist Church and as a committee member of the Southern Baptist Convention.

A decision on the motion to remove the misdemeanour charges is expected in about two weeks.

The Supreme Court ruling which underpins Mack Martin’s motion is the landmark “Lawrence v Texas” case in 2003.

Medical technologist John Lawrence, then 60 and street-stand vendor Tyron Gardner, then 36, were found by police having consensual sex at Lawrence’s home in Texas.

The couple were arrested following what turned out to be a false report of weapons disturbance.

However, the couple were charged with violating Texas’s anti-sodomy statute which at the time prohibited anal and oral sex between heterosexual couples but not same sex couples.

The case eventually went to the United States Supreme Court and justices ruled 6-3 to abolish the criminal prohibition of homosexual intercourse in Texas.