Last week, the California legislature passed a bill aimed at ending discrimination against LGBTQ youth regarding the state’s sex offender registry. Predictably, religious-right anti-LGBTQ activists have seized on the legislation to falsely suggest that the state is attempting to legalize pedophilia.
Under current California law, voluntary sex between a person aged 14 to 17 years old and an adult no more than 10 years older is illegal, but in cases involving vaginal intercourse, judges are given discretion to decide if the adult must be required to register as a sex offender. But in cases involving all other forms of intercourse, such as oral or anal intercourse, the judge is given no such discretion, and sex offender registration for the adult is required.
As such, in cases where, for example, a 19-year-old male had “traditional” sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old female, it would be up to the judge to decide if the 1- year-old male must register as a sex offender, whereas in cases where a 19-year-old male had oral or anal sex with a 17-year-old male, the 19-year-old male would automatically be required to register as a sex offender.
The California legislation aims to eliminate this discrimination by giving judges the discretion to decide whether the adult in all cases involving voluntary intercourse with a minor within 10 years of age must register as sex offenders. The legislation does not legalize such intercourse, nor does it legalize pedophilia in any way, as the countless articles fact-checking such baseless claims make clear.
Right-wing radio host and pastor E.W. Jackson, who was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia in 2013, obviously couldn’t be bothered to do the simple research required to understand the purpose of this legislation before he spent a good portion of his radio program last Thursday lying about it and railing against it.
“It actually provides that an adult who has sex with a child but is within 10 years of the age of the victim—now, folks, I don’t see any age limits even on this—within 10 years of the age of the victim, then that would not be considered a crime,” Jackson falsely claimed. “That means, yes, just what it implies. That means that a 20-year-old could use a 10-year-old, and that’s OK.”
“Here’s the justification behind it,” he continued. “These consent laws, they say, are blatant discrimination against young LGBT people engage in consensual sexual activity. … This bill is directed at same-sex involvement. You know that that’s not going to hold, right? I mean, that’s not going to hold because then it would be discrimination. If you apply this to same-sex relationships, you’re going to inevitably have to apply it to heterosexual relationships. Of course. If this were allowed to stand, it would be unconstitutional not to include heterosexual relationships in this. I mean, these people are insane. They’re insane.”
“Currently, if an adult engages in intimate relationships with a minor, then that adult must register as a sex offender,” Jackson added, as he continued to misrepresent the legislation and its purpose. “This would end that because that rule, says the senator, is based upon nothing but ‘homophobia.’ Yeah, who would have known folks that rules protecting children from being sexually exploited by adults If they’re of the same sex are homophobia and discriminatory? Then they’re saying, ‘This bill would not legalize pedophilia.’ What? Of course it does!”