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No California Shouldn’t Decriminalize Adult Sex With 14-Year-Olds

LGBT Scott Wiener

LGBT activists have pushed reasonable notions of equality to its limits with obscene perversions. State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco — the same lawmaker who co-sponsored a bill in 2017 to remove the felony penalty for knowingly exposing another person to HIV — has introduced a bill, Senate Bill 145 to give judges more flexibility in sentencing gay men who abuse minors.

Under current law — which Wiener, who is gay, describes as “horrific homophobia” — a straight 24-year-old male who has sex with a 15-year-old girl can avoid being put on the sex-offender list if the judge feels the situation does not deserve it, but a gay man in the same scenario with a similar-aged boy would not be given the same option.

Wiener’s argument is one of evolving social standards. In 2015, the California Supreme Court upheld the long-standing separation of vaginal sex from other forms of sex-based on the misguided idea that if pregnancy occurred, placing the father on the sex-offender list could ruin his chances of providing for his family. The extreme of the scenario would be an 18-year-old man with a 17-year-old girlfriend.

Wiener’s bill, however, is not so straightforward. He argues all forms of sex should be treated equally under the law.

The Law Will Protect Exploitation of Minors

Moreover, while there is room for flexibility in a ruling in which a boy turns 18 while his girlfriend is still 17 and her father presses charges, the bill defines the age minimum at 14. Recognizing that minors cannot legally consent to sex, Wiener argues that if a minor age 14 to 17 voluntarily has sex with an adult who is less than 10 years older, the judge should decide based on the individual facts of the case whether the adult should be placed on the sex-offender registry. Data provided by Wiener’s office states, “[A]t least 2,400 people on the [CA] sex-offender registry, and potentially hundreds more, have been convicted of non-vaginal sex with a minor age 14 or older.”

The argument on its own sounds like a simple proposal for equal treatment under the law. As Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Bradley McCartt told state lawmakers, “Remember, it’s not the punishment for the crime. It’s a public safety issue that has to do with crime-solving and keeping track of predators.”

But it is the mindset behind the age issue that is most concerning. “We need to stop criminalizing teenage sex,” Wiener said. “At a minimum, we should not be forcing these kids onto the sex-offender registry and ruining their lives.”

The problem is that it isn’t about teenagers having sex. It’s about adults exploiting minors sexually and being legally protected in doing so. What possible justification would there be for a 24-year-old to have sex with a 15-year-old of either sex? The rational answer, of course, is there is none. Rather than addressing this reasonable concern, however, left-wing and LGBT sites decided opposition was homophobic and hateful.

Left-Wing Media Smears Conservative Detractors

Mother Jones, for example, titled an article, “A California State Senator Introduced a Bill Pushing LGBTQ Equality — and a QAnon Mob Came for Him.” The article begins by arguing, “Scott Wiener is used to being targeted for his legislation. The California State Senator represents San Francisco, and has long championed the kind of progressive reforms that have attracted the ire of right-wing culture warriors and their online trolling.”

But what is progressive about decriminalizing the intentional exposure of HIV to innocent victims and now pushing legislation to reduce the crime of sexually abusing 14-year-olds?

LGBTQ Nation also jumped on the victim story with an article titled, “Rightwing launches disgusting attack on ‘pedophile’ gay lawmaker over equality legislation.” Making it sound as though the only opposition boils down to anti-LGBT hate from right-wing extremists, the article says, “A gay lawmaker in California has been targeted by rightwing media as part of what they believe is a pedophile conspiracy because he introduced a bill to treat LGBTQ sex offenders the same as straight sex offenders.”

As has become far too common, opposing perceived right-wing attacks is more important than critically addressing dangerous legislation.

When It Comes to Sex, We Can’t Treat Minors Like Adults

This all comes down to the LGBT fixation on treating minors as adults capable of adult decision-making. Yet there is simply no reason for someone between the ages of 14 and 16 to be in a relationship with an adult. This should be non-negotiable, regardless of the sexes involved.

The only gray area involves teenagers on the edge of lawful adulthood who might cross over just enough to fall into legal issues. For example, McCartt provided a story of a 17-year-old girl whose mother did not want her dating a girl and pressed charges against the daughter’s 18-year-old girlfriend.

Providing reasonable legal accommodation to this very specific and narrow experience should not be an open invitation for adults to exploit young teenagers by engaging in sex with them. Unfortunately, Wiener and other California lawmakers, who have had no formal pushback on this legislation so far, are more interested in pursuing grand social ideals rather than writing simple, rational law. Left-wing media is all too happy to use labels of “hate” and “conspiracy theories” to dismiss legitimate concerns.