Gov. Newsom Signs Bill that Protects Queer Young People Unfairly Forced to Register as Sex Offenders
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 145 on Friday evening, ending blatant discrimination against LGBTQ young people on California’s sex offender registry. Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) issued the following statement in response to the governor’s action:
“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. I am so grateful that Governor Newsom — one of the LGBTQ community’s strongest allies ever — once again has shown that he gets it and that he’s willing to support our community even when it’s hard. And the politics here are hard, with the massive Trump/QAnon/MAGA misinformation campaign against the legislation. The facts are clear: SB 145 simply ends anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Today, California took yet another step toward an equitable society.”
Equality California, which co-sponsored the bill with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, released the following statement from Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur:
“We are incredibly grateful to Governor Newsom for his unyielding commitment to LGBTQ+ civil rights and social justice. Dr. King said, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’ Signing SB 145 was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do for LGBTQ+ young people, it was the right thing to do to keep our communities safe and it was the right thing to do for California. If we want a California for all, then we need a justice system that treats all Californians fairly and equally — regardless of who they are, what they look like or whom they love. That goal is at the core of SB 145. Thanks to Governor Newsom and Senator Wiener, California is one step closer to living up to our shared values of fairness, equality and justice for all.”
Senate Bill 145 ends California’s anti-LGTBQ discriminatory treatment of specific sex acts regarding sex offender registry law. Under longstanding California law (since 1944), if an adult has voluntary penile-vaginal intercourse with a minor aged 14, 15, 16, or 17 and is up to 10 years older than the minor, the offense is not automatically registrable. Rather, a judge has discretion whether or not to place the defendant on the sex offender registry depending on the facts of the case. By contrast, if the act is oral sex, anal sex or sexual penetration, the court must place the defendant on the sex offender registry regardless of the facts of the crime and even in cases where the prosecutor and judge do not want to place the defendant on the registry. This distinction in the law is irrational and discriminatory towards LGBTQ young people. For example, if a 19-year-old and 17-year-old couple have voluntary oral sex, the 19-year-old must be placed on the registry. But if it’s vaginal sex, the judge has discretion to place the older party on the registry or to keep them off. SB 145 ends this irrational distinction by treating all voluntary sex the same way that the law currently treats penile-vaginal intercourse.
SB 145 is co-sponsored by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and Equality California, and is supported by both law enforcement (California District Attorneys Association and California Police Chiefs Association), as well as civil rights advocates, including the the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the California Public Defenders Association, Children Now, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org