The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is speaking out against divisive California legislation that would empower judges to forgo adding those who engage in homosexual sex with certain minors to the state sex offender registry, demanding that lawmakers strengthen existing laws instead of weakening them.
California law forbids performing sex acts with a minor, but oral and anal intercourse requires that the older partner register as a sex offender, wheras in the case of vaginal intercourse judges have the discretion to choose whether to require registration. Senate Bill 145, introduced by Democrat state Sen. Scott Wiener, extends that judicial discretion to all three acts, so long as the victim is at least 14 and the offender “is not more than 10 years older than the minor.”
Lawmakers gave their final approval to the legislation earlier this week. Supporters claim it merely eliminates inequities in how homosexual and heterosexual acts are treated. Opponents argue the bill will empower pedophiles should it become law.
“The existing laws in question were placed into the California Statutes to prevent the abuse of minors, whose intellectual immaturity makes them vulnerable,” former ACPeds president Dr. Joseph Zanga said in a press release. “These proposed modifications put more children at increased risk of abuse. It strains the bounds of common sense that any legislator (some of whom must be parents) would allow such proposals to pass out of Committee much less to pass them into law.”
The group noted that even non-forcible statutory rape is recognized as childhood sexual abuse because children “cannot consent to sexual relations with adults due to their cognitive immaturity and the psychological power differential inherent to the relationship,” and that childhood sexual abuse is “associated with elevated rates of mental illness including depression, anxiety, substance use, altered body image, self-mutilation and suicide attempts.”
All eyes are currently on Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has yet to reveal whether he will sign SB145 into law. As a liberal Democrat, Newsom generally supports the priorities of LGBT activists, but some say his pro-LGBT record could also give him cover to veto the bill, at least in its current form.
“There might be some wisdom in Gov. Newsom rejecting this draft and asking for modifications to eliminate the 10-year age gap,” former Newsom aide Nathan Ballard told the Los Angeles Times on Friday.
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