Amid soaring temperatures, rolling blackouts, historic wildfires, and continuing pandemic lockdowns, California’s legislature is being consistent in its priorities.

In the rush to pass measures before the legislative session ended, they passed a measure lowering penalties for adults who have ‘consensual’ sex with a minor if the offender is within 10 years of age with the victim.

SB 145 passed in both houses of the State Legislature late Monday evening.

“If signed into law, a 24-year-old could have sexual relations with a 15-year-old child without being required to register as a sex offender,” State Senator Shannon Grove wrote in a tweet.

Under current law, while it is illegal for an adult to have consensual sex with a teenager between 14 and 17 years old, who cannot legally give consent, vaginal intercourse between the two does not require the offender to be listed on the state’s sex offender registry, as long as the offender is within 10 years of age of the minor. Instead, the judge has the discretion to decide, based on the facts of the case, whether the sex offender registration is warranted.

Other forms of intercourse such as oral and anal intercourse require sex offender registration.

The bill’s author indicates it is to align the rules to those being applied in a similar measure impacting heterosexual situations.

State Senator Scott Wiener, who introduced the bill, claims it is meant to treat LGBT offenders the same as heterosexual offenders, as there is already a similar exemption from mandatory registration for vaginal intercourse between partners of a similar age difference.

“This irrational discrimination on the sex offender registry was created when California banned LGBT sex,” Wiener said in a statement when a version of the bill passed the state senate in May 2019. “This distinction between vaginal intercourse and other forms of intercourse is a relic of California’s discriminatory past, and it’s time to bring an end to it.”

Wiener continued: “Going on the sex-offender registry can ruin a young person’s life, making it harder for them to find a job and housing.”

There has been some concern that the new rule essentially promotes pedophilia. However, the rule simply grants judges the discretion as to whether a situation warrants someone register as a sex offender.

 

 
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