In California, SB145 was passed into law on September 11, ending a 76 year old discriminatory law towards the LGBTQ+ community.
Senator Scott Wiener introduced and proposed the Senate Bill 145, which gives the judge the discretion to treat all sexual acts as the same when deciding to put the convicted on the sex offender registratry. The pre-existing law gave the judges the choice to put adults on the sex offenderr list after having vaginal intercoruse. The law would not treat the case the same when it was anal or oral sex, leaving homosexual couples out of the law, forcing the judge to put them on the sex offender list.
“[There was instances] where college students and high school students are having sex together, if they have vaginal intercourse it’s a crime but the judge does not have to put the person on the sex offender registery,” said Wiener when interviewed by the VP.
Senator Wiener explained how the law would’ve worked before SB145 was passed. He explained one of the many possible scenarios that could leave someone as a sex offender. Before the SB145 was passed, judges were left with no other choice but to put couples of the LGBTQ+ community on the sex offender list, even if the same act was done by a straight couple.
“The judge can look at the facts of the case and say ‘You know what, this was a 19 year-old with his 17 year-old girlfriend, it was consensual, I’m not putting him on, but this was a 24 year-old with a 14 year-old, this is not good, I’m going to put him on the registry,” as the Senator elucidated the flaw of the former law. “But if it’s not vaginal intercourse, if it’s say oral or anal sex, then the judge must put the person on the registery even if it’s an 18 year-old with a 17 year-old partner, the judge has no ability to keep the person off [the registry] .”
The Sex OffendersRegistry is life changing for all offenders because of all the restrictions and requirments. The offender must be registered on a website where neighbors can see the act the offender committed and where they live. Offenders can’t live within 2,000 feet of any schools or parks. Lastly, the convicted will likely have much difficulty finding employment.
The start of discrimination started in 1944 when the sex registery was created. Take into consideration, that this was also a time where gay sex wasn’t legal. This discrimiating law could leave members of the LGBTQ+ community specifically, as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
“The Sex Offender Registry was never updated to reflect that, so we have this outdated distinction that is destroying the lives of LGBTQ+young people,” said Wiener. “So SB145 simply says, ‘let’s treat all forms of intercourse the way that we have treated vaginal intercourse for the last 76 years’, which is discretion of the court.”
The passing of this bill was a no brainer to the Senator. He knew it was going to be no easy task, but once he saw he got support from law enforcement, rape crisis centers, Equality California, and ACLU, he rose up and decided to fight it head on. Of course, this process came with its own complications.
“In August, before we even passed the bill, before it even went to the Governor, that QAnon just exploited this and over a course of more than a month I have received more than a thousand death threats on social media as well as tens of thousands of comments calling me a pedophile and all sorts of other slander,” said Wiener.
This flame of misinformation caused great distress to him for his safety. This wildfire of misinformation was posted and repeated by Donald Trump Jr , Rush Limbaugh, and Ted Cruz through social media with their following each counting over millions. This lie was spread and caused them to backlash on Senator Wiener. There were only two lines added to the law. The bill did not legalize anything, it only expanded the law to all sexual acts, regardless of sexuality.
Steven Covelman, U.S. History Teacher at Da Vinci Communications, who has a degree in Journalism and expertise in U.S. History and Politics, expressed that he believes the passing of this bill can potentially become a very emotional topic for many that could be construed in the wrong way through social media if people are misinformed on the history of the bill itself.
“I would call the news very polarized; today you could go to find sources of news that fit your values and views of the world and I don’t have to look in and engage with things I don’t agree with or want to read or listen,” said Covelman. “It’s not the way that it always has been… certain point and history, news stations like cable news channels were required to show a certain amount of hard factual evidence.”
News channels are getting more and more opinion based. This type of research is called confirmation bias. People want to find something that they believe in. This is common with citizens researching politics based on the news outlets that are either more liberal or conserative.
Elena McBee, Government Teacher at Da Vinci Science has a degree in History with a minor in Political Science and expertise in Government and Politics. McBee believes that the country is taking the right steps to ensure rights for the LGBTQ+ community, but believes that there is more that the government needs to do as there is still division among the country when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights specifically.
“Unfortunately, we are getting more and more divided and unwilling to listen to one another,” said McBee. “Data has shown that we used to be more moderate generally as a country, but now we are splitting more and more apart.”
The country is getting more and more divided with political views. Americans commonly have the habit of making everything based on a political party then forgetting the point of politics, to make this country the best it can for all their citizens to be free, without prejudice. People simply want to be able to speak the language they want, express their thoughts without backlash, express their religions, be any sexuality, be in one’s skin color without feeling discrimation.