The bill, which was passed by the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature, hands judges discretion over sex offender registration in cases that involve oral or anal sex between a child aged 14 to 17 and an adult who is no more than 10 years older than the child.
Under the state’s current law, adults are automatically added to the sex offender registry for having sexual relations of these two types with minors. The measure passed California State Assembly in a 41-18 vote.
The bill’s proponents claim its main purpose is ending discrimination against LGBT adults who have anal and oral sex with minors who they claim have consented to the activity. The legislation was introduced by State Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat, who said that the law would stop what he has decided amounts to “blatant discrimination against young LGBT people engaged in consensual activity.”
He believes that the current law is discriminatory against LGBT people because it states that judges can decide whether adults who engage in traditional intercourse with minors need to register as sex offenders. This only applies to consensual vaginal intercourse between someone aged 14 to 17 and an individual who was no more than 10 years older than the other person. But because LGBT people do not engage in this type of intercourse, he believes they are somehow targeted by this law, which he calls “horrific homophobia” that “ruins people’s lives.”
Not everyone agrees with Wiener, and even members of his own party have spoken out against it. Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said during the bill’s debate in the legislature: “I cannot, in my mind, as a mother, understand how sex between a 24-year-old and a 14-year-old could ever be consensual, how it could ever not be a registrable offense. We should never give up on this idea that children should be in no way subject to a predator.”
She added: “I challenge everybody: Give me a situation where a 24-year-old had sex with a 14-year-old, any kind of sex, and it wasn’t predatory.”
The mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, said that all sex acts should fall under these rules, tweeting: “An adult who commits ANY sex act on a minor 10 years younger must be registered a sex offender. Law must be changed.”
Newsom has long been a champion of LGBTQ rights. In his days as San Francisco mayor, he instructed the city to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples just a month into his term.
Meanwhile, the senator who proposed the bill is the same one who made headlines in 2017 for a different controversial bill that downgraded knowingly transmitting HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor despite the fact that the disease is a death sentence. Wiener, who is gay, also proposed a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to run for Democratic Party seats.
As bad as those ideas were, this bill could well be his most dangerous one yet. A pedophile is a pedophile, and it shouldn’t matter which type of sex was involved. The law should protect children, not the adults who prey on minors.
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