While many laws and bills come under public scrutiny for a variety of reasons, one that is getting a lot of attention lately is California Senate Bill 145. The bill was proposed to amend a current California law that dealt with registering as a Sex Offender after having sex with a minor aged 14-17 (if you were only within 10 years of the minor). This was due to the current law being considered homophobic; however, even with the new bill there is a lot of discussion surrounding this, as it’s quite controversial.
The Current Law
Up until this bill was proposed, the most up-to-date California law claimed the following: If you were to have voluntary (not forced) sexual intercourse with someone between the ages of 14-17 and you were within ten years of their age (24-27), you would not necessarily be required to be listed on the California Sex Offender registry. Rather, as the most current law stood, it was up to the judge to hear the facts pertaining to the case to decide whether the offender was required to be registered on the State’s Sex Offender Registry or not.
This law did have a stipulation, though, as this only applied to vaginal sex. If the offender in question had committed another voluntary sexual act (I.e. oral sex or anal sex), then the offender was required to be registered not he Sex Offender registry.
Many took issue with this as they viewed the law to be homophobic in nature. This is due to the fact that if this happened to involve gay men, they would immediately have to be registered to the Sex Offender registry due to the sexual act they had partaken in obviously not involving a vagina.
Senate Bill 145
Scott Wiener, who represents California Senate District 11, was one of the people to take issue with the law as it stood. He was quoted (as reported by Q Voice News) as saying that “There is no logical reason to treat different sex acts differently, and that distinction only exists under California due to egregious legally sanctioned homophobia from the past.”
Wiener also noted that we needed to “stop criminalizing LGBTQ young people”
Due to his issues with the law as it stood, Wiener- along with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and Equality California- proposed Senate Bill 145. The bill’s purpose was to amend the current law in order to not discriminate against LGBTQ people. More specifically, while any instance of sex with a 14-17 year old would be considered a crime, if you were within 10 years of their age the judge could determine whether or not you had to register on the state’s Sex Offender Registry regardless of what type of sexual act was committed. This sought to close the inequality gap that existed under the current law- I.e. the one seemingly discriminating against gay men.
Senate Bill 145 officially passed and is now being sent to California Governor Gavin Newsom who has until September 30th to sign or veto the bill.
Since proposing (and authoring) Senate Bill 145, Wiener has revealed that he has been the victim of many attacks.
In a press conference recapped by The San Francisco Chronicle, Wiener explained that “I’ve been the subject of death threats and personal attacks, threatening to decapitate me and send my head to my mother. This kind of slander, not just against me but against my community, is outrageous and we have to speak out against it.”
Wiener also noted at the time that he received “toxic, poisonous hate and homophobia and anti-Semitism” due to his authoring of the bill.
One of the largest groups taking issue with Wiener’s bill is QANON. QANON reportedly has a problem with the bill due to the fact that they feel that Wiener is protecting pedophiles and trying to allow for gay men to have sex with minors.
Examining the bill closely, this is clearly not the case; rather it is trying to create an equal playing field for all within a certain age group accused of having sex with minors in a certain age group. It is not decriminalizing the act; rather, it is seeking to ensure that every case is treated fairly by not forcing someone to have to register on the Sex Offender Registry simply because the sexual act they participated in was not vaginal. If Wiener was actually trying to protect pedophiles, he likely would have sought to decriminalize any sexual act between a 14-17 year old an adult (within ten years of their age). This is not the case whatsoever, as Wiener is only trying to amend the part referring to registering with the state’s Sex Offender registry.
A Very Anti-Gay Law
We spoke to a lawyer off-record regarding their thoughts on the law that had existed and on Senate Bill 145.
“The Senate Bill 145 thing is very interesting,” they began by sharing with CELEB.
“I obviously don’t follow such things very closely,” they continued, “but apparently in California if you have sex with someone 15 or older and you just had ‘vaginal intercourse,’ then the law made sex offender registration OPTIONAL (the judge could decide to impose it or not)….but if you had sex with someone 15 or older and had oral/anal sex, then registration was mandatory….the judge had no choice but to require sex offender registration.”
So what did they make of the law that currently existed?
“That DOES seem like a very anti-gay law,” they explicitly stated, seemingly supporting/understanding why Senate Bill 145 was proposed and passed.
What Will Happen From Here?
While the bill was passed, as we aforementioned what actually becomes of it now stands in the lads of Governor Newsom. While people will have varying opinions on the Senate Bill, the law undeniably was homophobic in nature as it stood. Either require ALL to enter on the sexual offender registry or evaluate ALL on a case-by-case basis.
Discriminating based on the sexual organ that was involved- which then does discriminate against gay men- seems antiquated in a modern age and, fundamentally, unfair.