The California General Assembly has advanced legislation that would expand the criteria in which judges can opt to forfeit sex-offender registration, applying it to gay men and other adults who commit certain consensual sex acts with minors. A current law already applies such leeway to certain heterosexual cases involving adults and minors in California.
Introduced by Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, SB 145 was passed by the state Senate in a 23-10 vote and then passed through the state Assembly, 41-25. Wiener, an open homosexual, was cosponsor of 2017 legislation to remove the felony penalty for knowingly exposing another person to HIV.
Under current law, a person convicted of certain sex-related crimes who lives, attends school or works in California is required to register with law enforcement as a sex offender. Depending on the offense, failure to register is a misdemeanor or felony. However, SB 145 would exempt a person of sex-offender registration “if the person is not more than 10 years older than the minor and if that offense is the only one requiring the person to register.”
According to the Associated Press, the bill “would only give judges expanded discretion to determine whether an adult must register as a sex offender. Under current law, judges can make that decision in cases of voluntary, but illegal, vaginal sex with a minor age 14 to 17 [involving] an adult within 10 years of the minor’s age. SB 145 would expand that law to include voluntary oral and anal sex within the same age parameters.”
The bill would not apply when a minor is under the age of 14, when the age gap is larger than 10 years or if either party claims the sex was not consensual.
“We need to stop criminalizing teenage sex,” Wiener said. “At a minimum, we should not be forcing these kids onto the sex-offender registry and ruining their lives.”
According to an article from The Federalist, “Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Bradley McCartt told state lawmakers, ‘Remember, it’s not the punishment for the crime. It’s a public safety issue that has to do with crime-solving and keeping track of predators.’”
“The problem is that it isn’t about teenagers having sex,” reported The Federalist. “It’s about adults exploiting minors sexually and being legally protected in doing so.”
The bill has been supported by Equality California, the LGBTQ advocacy organization, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union of California.
The bill awaits a signature from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is expected to sign it into law.
Above: A man holds the rainbow California flag at the 2019 San Francisco Pride Parade.
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