California Legislature passes bill to soften criminal penalty for LGBT adults who have sex with underage teens
September 02, 2020
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The California General Assembly — comprised of a Democratic supermajority — has advanced legislation that could ease the criminal punishment for LGBT adults who have sex with underage teenagers.
The bill — SB 145 — was introduced by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D), an openly gay man, and seeks to prevent gay adults who sodomize or perform oral sex with underage teenagers from being automatically assigned to California's sex offender registry.
The legislation calls for a judge to use discretion on assigning an individual to the sex offender registry if their victim was between the ages of 14 to 17 and the age difference between the offender and the victim is less than 10 years.
The bill passed the California state Senate by a 23-10 vote and passed the Assembly by a 41-18 vote, the San Fransisco Chronicle reported.
Wiener claims the bill "eliminates discrimination against LGBTQ youth in our criminal justice system."
More from the Chronicle:
Under current law, a judge can decide whether to place a man who has vaginal intercourse with an underage teenage girl on the sex offender registry based on the facts of the case. But if anal or oral sex, or vaginal penetration with anything other than a penis is involved, the adult must register as a sex offender — a relic of a penal code that criminalized those acts until 1975, even between consenting adults.
The California Supreme Court upheld the legal difference in 2015, arguing that because vaginal intercourse can lead to pregnancy, forcing a father to register as a sex offender would subject him to social stigmatization that could make it difficult to find a job and support his child.
The bill will next head to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), where it will likely become law.
State Rep. Lorena Gonzalez, a Democrat, said, "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."
Wiener is also responsible for legislation that lowered the criminal penalty for knowingly transmitting HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor.