Calm Down

No, California did not just legalize pedophilia. Here’s the real story…

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Via Wikimedia Commons

Hot on the heels of California Governor Gavin Newsom signing a new law regarding sex offender roles into effect, conservative wonks and the generally hysterical have accused him and the state of California of legalizing pedophilia. Spoiler alert: that is not the case.

Openly gay Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener sponsored the bill, known as SB 145, in the legislature. The legislation relates to a judge’s discretion on whether or not to add someone convicted of sodomy with a minor to the sex offender roles. Prior to the passage of SB 145, judges could decide whether to place a man on the registry if he had consensual intercourse with someone age 14-17 and was not more than 10 years older than the other person. That discretion, however, pertained only to vaginal intercourse.

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In other words, the Washington Examiner reports, the law had a double standard for men committing heterosexual sodomy as opposed to homosexual sodomy. SB 145 ended that inequity by extending a judge’s discretion regarding sex offender rolls to all forms of sodomy, thus eliminating the preferential treatment of heterosexual offenders.

“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,” Sen. Wiener explained on social media. “This discrimination destroys lives.”

Needless to say, Sen. Weiner’s words go unheeded by critics of SB 145 who claim the new law somehow legalizes pedophilia. It doesn’t. The statutes prohibiting sex with minors remain firmly in place, and have not changed. The new law relates only to placing a convicted statutory rapist on the list of sex offenders. Rather, it eliminates the harsher penalties for same-sex offenders.