California is getting some spotlight on this blog. If you'd like to read how they are working on an exit tax, read here. But, surprise surprise! The California State Assembly isn't done with the lunacy.
Enter SB 145. Signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last Friday, it does the unthinkable (and warning, this particular entry gets icky)-exempting mandatory registration of a sex offender if there is no more than a 10 year age difference between the minor and the person convicted. The law states that the judge in the case has discretion on making this decision. When reading the law, you can tell that it is going out of its way to give an unsuspecting youth, whether gay or straight, the benefit of the doubt if they entered a sexual relationship or had a sexual encounter with a younger person who is close to them in their age group.
That part I can understand. And, while there are several things that might go against my personal beliefs (the beauty and world-building that is heterosexual romantic relationships, the beauty and innocence of childhood, and a few others) all of that is a discussion for another day. We're focusing on this topic, and California is once again dropping the ball.
Let's first consider the opposition and the reason why this law has come to pass. The central arguments from Democratic legislators in the Golden State is that this law disproportionately punishes LGBTQ citizens. Theoretically, you could have a situation where you have either a lesbian couple or a gay couple, like one in high school separated by a couple of years. One member of the couple will end up in college, and the other will still be in high school. If there is an incident between them, Democratic politicians in California would argue that would ruin a young man or young woman's life. And since they were gay, it amounted to persecution. So, they clearly think, along with Gov. Newsom, that this is a great act of mercy, justice, and equality that needed to be done.
I might surprise you, but even with what I said before about my personal beliefs, there hasn't been a single gay or lesbian person I have met who I did not adore. And virtually all of America has a live and let live mentality towards gay people. If you don't believe that, fine. Because I would then bring up this-I've been to California-and they go BEYOND live and let live. The LGBTQ is not only welcomed, but celebrated throughout the state.
So that's the first knock against the persecution myth of the LGBTQ in the Golden State. Which adds on the ridiculousness of this law.
Now, as absurd as that is. Here's the second point which makes the Republicans in California, and people of sound-mind across the country, furious. This law is going to make it a trillion times easier for potential pedophiles to escape the sex offender registry. I brought up hypotheticals before to explain the opposition. Here's one for the side I support: instead of a gay or lesbian couple, where there could be consent, what if it is instead a babysitter with children? Or a teacher's aide either still in college, or fresh out of college, with a middle and/or high schooler. Or a young Catholic priest working with teenagers? ALL OF THOSE FALL IN THE TEN YEAR AGE RANGE. Whether male or female, gay or straight, it would not matter. There have been cases, especially in my beloved faith that is the Catholic Church, where this exact situation has happened. And sadly, thinking of teachers who have been credibly accused and convicted of impropriety with students, their lawyers could potentially help them beat the rap and avoid getting placed on the registry. One lawyer could look through the law and use the loopholes, such as focusing on the defendant's mental issues, being forced to deal with some sort of concealment of their passions, extenuating circumstances in their lives which might make them sympathetic to a judge and jury. Any thing would be used.
And, again, going through this law, the judge just might go through with it!
The final point I will make about this wretched law is that what's to stop emboldening these first time offenders into lifelong predators. Here on the West Coast, we know a thing or two about serial killers. Guys like Ted Bundy got caught over and over and over and over again and STILL GOT AWAY. Not utilizing the sex offender registry after letting folks off on a technicality can lead to the exonerated either moving to new towns and continuing their crimes or they can stay and terrorize the victims in the towns where they were accused. And you'll be surprised how many parents look to see if there is a sex offender in their neighborhood-especially if they are moving to a new one.
It has been said by many, but it still is not registering with the elected, who should know this by heart. Government's first and foremost responsibility, from City Hall to the White House, is to protect the people. California has done a horrid job on both fronts. Both protecting folks wallets, as I talked about before, and now children. This isn't hyperbole-Senate Bill 145 is one of the worst laws ever created. Hopefully, it will be repealed soon.