I recently got into a conversation with a group of women on a friend’s Facebook page. My friend posted this meme. When I asked if she really believes this she said yes.
So I outed myself as a Liberal Democrat who thinks Trump is a threat to our democracy, and asked my friend and her friends what they are afraid we will steal? One woman said we can’t let the Dems take our country because she wants to raise her kid in a good country. I responded that I have three kids and we have the same goal. I asked her, “How do we come together as moms to build the best future for all our kids?”
Another woman joined the conversation and asked me, “Fran Carr, here is a big one. Why are democrats ok with allowing pedophiles to sleep with children. Have you not seen what California has done?!” I was shocked and said, “Democrats ARE NOT okay with that!!! I am not okay with that!!!”
Then I went to work to do some research. Because I am a journalist. That’s what I do. Here is my reply:
Thank you so much for telling me about this. I am so grateful! I did some research to find out the whole story and will share what I learned below. I’d love to know what you think. Please know I tried really hard to examine my own bias and I comment on that toward the end. Thank you again!
CA SB-145: Under current California law a minor can have consensual sex with someone up to 10 years older than they are, so long as the minor is 15 or older. So a 17 year old can have sex with their 18 year old boyfriend or girlfriend while they are both still in high school. It’s illegal, but it can be deemed consensual by a judge and the older person is not required to register as a sex offender if the judge so decides. Or not. The judge can still make them register as a sex offender depending on the case.
Here’s the interesting part. Current law only provides the ability to the judge to make this determination if the two people have vaginal intercourse. Any other kind of intercourse automatically requires the older person to be registered as a sex offender. So if an 18 year old girl and her 17 year old boyfriend have oral sex, she is a sex offender by definition under this law. The judge cannot let her off the hook, even if the boy made her do it.
In early 2019 SB 145 was introduced by a Democrat to even things out so kids weren’t being labeled as sex offenders for non-vaginal sexual behavior. So if a 17 and an 18 year old, regardless of gender, have oral sex, no one needs to be labeled a sex offender if the judge sees fit. The bill passed the CA Senate at the end of August and was sent to the Governor this week.
The headline about pedophiles you probably read came from an article in the Washington Pundit, a news source known for its extreme right-wing bias and rated as Questionable for its factuality. I linked to the rating site below.
To be fair, I read through the entire list of Questionable sources to see if anything I read is in there. I found the DNC at democrats.org, the RNC at gop.com, everytownforgunsafety.org and moveon.org. All of these scored “mixed factual.” The Washington Pundit scored “low factual.”
I also link to the AP article on this (rated Very High Factual), an article in Snopes (my go to since the 90s), and the text of the bill from the California legislature. I would really love to know some news sources you rely on if you are willing to share. Thank you so much!
(Skip this paragraph if you’re sensitive.)
Part of the purpose of this law is to end discrimination against LGBTQA+ kids who can’t have vaginal intercourse because neither of them have a vagina, or maybe both of them do. But I think this law is really interesting because I have three teenagers. I know teenagers today opt for blowjobs or hand jobs instead of coitus because they think it means they are still a virgin. I know they talk big about anal sex but no one really does it. I know girls who say they would choose anal sex first in order to keep their virginity. I know this because I talk to my kids about sex and I want to know what norms they are exposed to at school. I value open communication so I can guide them, because in my family we do not believe in sex outside of a committed relationship and I do not think kids should have sex until they are well into college. And for the record, I didn’t have sex until I was 20 but I know people who did have sex the first time when they were 14 or 15.