California legislators passed a controversial new law Monday that eases the sex offender registry rules for those who are convicted of committing sodomy or other sex acts with minors. The legislators were aiming to ease the restrictions on underage sex, in order to end “discrimination against LGBTQ young people on the sex offender registry.”
The bill, which now heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk, aims to “exempt from mandatory registration under the act a person convicted of certain offenses involving minors if the person is not more than 10 years older than the minor and if that offense is the only one requiring the person to register,” according to the bill.
Under the new law, any adult less than 10 years older than the minor that is convicted of engaging in oral or anal sex will not automatically be added to the sex-offender registry. The decision whether or not to add them is left up to a judge under the new bill, referred to as SB145.
“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.
The bill passed through the 80-member state Assembly by a vote of 41-18, and a vote of 23-10 in the Senate. But some legislators voicing their objection.
“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.