California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed a controversial bill into law on Friday that could soften the criminal punishment for LGBT adults who are convicted of sex crimes against underage teenagers.
According to KABC-TV, Newsom signed the bill without fanfare, likely due to the highly controversial nature of the legislation.
What is the background?
The bill — SB 145 — was introduced by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D), an openly gay man, and seeks to prevent LGBT adults who sodomize or perform oral sex with underage teenagers from being automatically placed on the California sex offender registry upon their criminal conviction.
As TheBlaze reported:
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.
Weiner claimed the bill “eliminates discrimination against LGBTQ youth in our criminal justice system.”
The bill was passed by the California Legislature in late August, with most Democrats supporting the legislation and Republicans opposing it, the San Fransisco Chronicle reported.
What was the reaction?
Responding to the bill becoming law, Weiner continued to claim the bill’s purpose is only about “ending discrimination.”
“Today, California took yet another step toward an equitable society,” Weiner said in a statement. “It’s appalling that in 2020, California continues to discriminate against LGBTQ people, by mandating that LGBTQ young people be placed on the sex offender registry in situations where straight people aren’t required to be placed on the registry. SB 145 simply ends that discrimination by treating LGBTQ young people the exact same way that straight young people have been treated since 1944.”
But not every Democratic lawmaker was thrilled about the bill.
State Rep. Lorena Gonzalez, a Democrat, said upon the bill’s passage, “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.”
Meanwhile, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, slammed Newsom.
“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,” Faulconer reacted. “An adult who commits ANY sex act on a minor 10 years younger must be registered a sex offender. Law must be changed.”