California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a controversial new law regarding judges’ discretion on whether or not to add individuals to the state’s sex offender registry who have committed sodomy with minors.
Newsom signed the bill, passed by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, into law without comment on Friday, expanding the discretion granted to judges in statutory rape cases, according to ABC 7 News Los Angeles.
California law permitted judges to decide whether to place a man on the sex offender registry if he had consensual intercourse with someone 14 to 17 years old and was not more than 10 years older than the other person. However, that discretion only applied to vaginal intercourse, which LGBT advocates, including the author of the new bill signed into law Friday, argued was discriminatory toward gay men.
“This eliminates discrimination against LGBTQ youth in our criminal justice system,” the bill’s sponsor, San Francisco Democratic state Rep. Scott Wiener, said about the legislation (known as SB 145) that he proposed.
“SB 145 ends discrimination against #LGBTQ young people on the sex offender registry. Currently, these youth are forced onto the registry for consensual sex — even if a judge doesn’t think it’s appropriate — in situations where straight youth are not,” Wiener added on social media. “This discrimination destroys lives.”
Many have criticized the bill, arguing that sex between a teenager and someone 10 years older is never consensual and should always warrant being placed on the sex offender registry.
“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,” Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said when the bill was being debated in the legislature. “We should never give up on this idea that children should be in no way subject to a predator.”
Several Twitter accounts belonging to conservative politicians and personalities tweeted out criticism of Newsom following his decision to sign the bill into law.
“As a parent I’m appalled that last night our governor signed a law maintaining a 24-year-old can have sex with a 14-year-old and it not be considered predatory,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer tweeted. “An adult who commits ANY sex act on a minor 10 years younger must be registered a sex offender. Law must be changed.”
“Disgusting: Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed SB 145 to allow 24-year-olds to have sex with 14-year-olds without being required to register as a sex offender,” California politician Carl DeMaio, a gay man himself, tweeted
The above comes from a Sept. 12 story in the Washington Examiner.
According to a Sept. 2 posting on Arthur Scheper, Lorena Gonzalez did vote for SB145.