California lawmakers have passed a bill that seeks to apply state laws on sexual offenses for heterosexual people to LGBTQ people alike.
Under current law, it is a crime for a person over the age of 18 to have sex with someone under the age of 18. However, if an 18-year-old high school student has "penile-vaginal" sex with, for example, the judges, their 17-year-old girlfriend or boyfriend, may exercise discretion in punishing, and the older teenager does not have to automatically register as a sex offender.
However, if a teen has oral or anal intercourse with a significant other same-sex person who is under 18, they will automatically be placed on the sex offender registry. The law is based on the state's antisodomy laws, repealed 40 years ago, which made oral or anal sex illegal between two consenting adults of any gender, including relationships between men and women.
Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), California Senator, was frustrated by the legal discrepancies and introduced Bill SB 145 to equate the punishment of LGBTQ people with their immediate counterparts. If the bill goes into effect, it will remain a crime to have sex with someone under the consent age. However, judges are asked to consider the facts before automatically placing a person – regardless of gender or orientation. on the sex offender register.
Unfortunately for Wiener, the bill plays a sweeping conspiracy theory advocated by the social conservatives that links the liberalization of sexual behavior laws to child trafficking and pedophilia. As a result, Wiener was confronted by various conspiracy theorists with a flood of negative, anti-gay and anti-Semitic comments and even threatened with “public execution”.
But Wiener has argued that the current law has ruined the lives of many people in California who were teenagers when they were sexually active with classmates or significant others who were of themselves within a few years by putting them on the registry for Have included sex offenders for life – which affects where you can live, their ability to get a job, and even how they get around in their daily lives. As such, he argued, it was best to leave it to the judges to determine for themselves whether a more severe punishment was required – as in the case of predatory or particularly egregious behavior – without imposing a specific penalty.
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The bill, jointly sponsored by the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and Equality California, was eventually passed by California Assembly 41-18 and Senate 23-10. It now goes to Governor Gavin Newsom's (D) desk, who has to sign it before the end of September for it to take effect. It is backed by several law enforcement advocates including the California Public Defenders Association, Children Now, and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), as well as LGBTQ advocates.
"We have to stop criminalizing LGBTQ youth," Wiener said in a statement. “There is no logical reason to treat different sexual acts differently, and that distinction only exists among California because of an outrageously legally sanctioned homophobia from the past. We are one step closer to ending the discriminatory treatment of LGBTQ youth. I hope that as a longtime ally of our community, Governor Newsom will legally sign SB 145. "
"The passage of SB 145 ensures the equitable and fair application of California's Sex Offender Registration Act regardless of sexual orientation," said Bradley McCartt, assistant district attorney for Los Angeles, in a statement. “Adding someone to the sex offender register has lifelong consequences. The ability for judges and prosecutors to individually evaluate cases of voluntary sexual activity between young people will ensure justice for all Californians. "
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