Was Newsom right to sign Senate Bill 145 addressing sex with minors?


Fact Box

  • The Senate Bill 145 passed the California State Assembly with 41-18 and the State Senate with 32-10.
  • Facebook users are claiming that SB-145, passed on August 31, 2020 seeks to “legalize pedophilia.”
  • The bill is meant to change California’s sex offender registry to equalize young LGBT adults who may be in technical violation of statutory rape laws. 
  • Eighteen is the age of consent in California; anyone seventeen or under is considered incapable of consenting to sex. Theoretically, anyone having sex with a person under eighteen is committing a crime.

Elizabeth (Yes)

Contrary to what is being declared by some, California's SB-145 will not open the floodgates in the state to pedophiles, and Newsom is right to sign it. The age of consent in California is still 18, and this bill does not decriminalize sexual acts with a minor. Instead, in some cases, it allows judges to use equal discretion for penalties regardless of the nature of the act. 

Prior to SB-145, it was already permissible for a judge not to require sex offender registry for a person engaging in vaginal sex with a minor between the ages of 14-17, provided that the offender is not more than ten years older than the minor. Passage of this bill permits judges to allow the same for both oral and anal sexual acts that fall into the same age-span. However, the bill does NOT legalize the behavior, nor does it provide the caveat for judicial discretion when the minor is younger than 14, per section 288 of the California penal code. Additionally, it does not apply when the sex is not consensual. 

Proponents of the bill say it's similar to the decriminalization of sodomy between consenting adults in California in the 1970s. This levels the playing field for LGBT youth who engage in sexual acts while still a minor. Detractors argue that SB-145 opens the door to pedophiles and/or homosexual predators to prey on young children. Regardless of one's perspective on the morality of homosexuality, it is wholly accurate that homosexual persons should not receive harsher penalties for equal crimes. As it stands, SB-145 opens no more doors than the allowance for equal jurisprudence.

Stephanie (No)

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a disturbing bill, SB-145, pertaining to sex with minors. The bill permits judges to decide on a case-by-case basis whether an adult found having “oral or anal sex” with a child as young as 14 warrants being placed on a sex offender registry in California. It appears those who consider the bill acceptable may be justifying its perversion based on the stipulation that “The measure won’t apply when a minor is under 14, when the age gap is larger than ten years, or when either party says the sex wasn’t consensual.” Yet this could potentially apply to a situation where an adult as old as 24 preys on a vulnerable, 14-year-old child. Laws such as these are unacceptable, as they undeniably promote sex with underage minors. While the change in the law regarding oral and anal sex was meant to address the LGBTQ community, it endangers ALL children, as it appears to be an excuse to pass an inappropriate bill in the name of “equality.”

Moreover, this bill is horrendous because it protects pedophiles and implies that children as young as 14 are mature enough to make decisions about sex and sex with a much older person or one of their own gender. The bill has been criticized as being about “oral sex with a willing minor child”—a situation that should not exist in undeveloped young teens. Progressives defending the law’s amendment have attempted to do so by insisting that “SB 145 would not legalize pedophilia.” While it does not directly, it undeniably makes it easier for sick individuals to get away with exploiting children.

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