Bill Would Not Legalize Pedophilia In California
Speaker 1: 00:00 Governor Gavin Newsome signed SB one 45 into law without comment last week, but it's generated plenty of comment in San Diego. It started with a tweet that went viral by mayor Kevin Faulkner quote, as a parent. I'm appalled that last night, our governor signed a law maintaining a 24 year old can have sex with a 14 year old and it not be considered predatory, but that's not the law's intent. The controversy has spilled into the race for mayor between Barbara Brie and Todd Gloria, and among criticisms of Faulkner is that he is echoing the conspiracy theory, Q Anon, which also spreads lies about baby killing and cannibalism by prominent figures. Joining me to discuss all this is KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen. Welcome back to midday edition. Andrew. Thank you, Mark. Let's start with SB one 45. What does the law say? Speaker 2: 00:52 So Mark current law treats adults convicted of statutory rape of a victim between 14 and 17 differently depending on the sexual act that takes place. And essentially the sexual orientation of the two parties involved when a victim is between 14 and 17 and the perpetrator is within 10 years of the victim's age, a judge can decide whether to require that perpetrator to register as a sex offender in cases of a warning to listeners, we're going to be talking about some sexual acts here, so it's somewhat uncomfortable, but in cases of vaginal penetration, a judge can decide whether or not to place the perpetrator on the sex offender registry in cases of other sex acts, uh, anal oral or digital penetration, which are the main types of sex acts involved that that same sex couples do. A judge has no discretion. So whereas an 18 year old could have sex with his 17 year old girlfriends and potentially not be placed on the sex offender registry an 18 year old having sex with his 17 year old boyfriend would be placed on the registry. No matter what, um, what this law changes is it treats LGBT convicts of statutory rape. The same as heterosexual convicts. It has been endorsed by equality, California, the LGBT civil rights group, um, the California district attorneys association that California police chief's association. It has wide street, uh, widespread mainstream support from these organizations and many of them not known for being soft on child sexual abuse. Speaker 1: 02:27 Now, what has the Bill's author state Senator Scott Wiener said in response to the mayor's tweet and similar criticism? Speaker 2: 02:34 Well, he's always said that this bill was about equal treatment under the law. A judge does have been allowed this discretion in cases of a statutory rape between a man and a woman since 1944. So for the past 76 years, he says, judges have been deciding whether those convicted of statutory rape in those cases should be on the sex offender registry or not. And no one was crying out for reform. And in fact, uh, critics of this bill, at least as far as I've heard, have not been able to point to a case where, um, a judge made the wrong decision and somebody should have been placed on the registry when they were not. Um, and he says, then the only problem was when LGBT Californians asked for equal treatment under the law. Um, that's when people have said, no, this bill is, you know, there are many, many different lives and disinfect information spread about it saying that it legalizes pedophilia or that it, um, legalizes any sexual acts. When in fact it doesn't, it doesn't change the criminality of these acts. It only changes whether a judge has discretion to place the offender on the sex offender registry. Speaker 1: 03:42 Well, KSI has been criticized for inflaming the issue in giving opponents a platform on its air. Here's Kevin Faulkner on Kao aside this week, terrible bill, the governor should not have signed it. And I think you're seeing that opposition, and this is bipartisan. This is Republicans have voted against it. Democrats who voted against it, the absolute terrible thing to do it should have repealed the existing law. Lauren not make it worse. And to say under any circumstances that you could have a 24 year old adult with a 14 year old and call that consensual, that's just crazy that defies logic. And let's hear how council woman, Barbara Bree, who again is running for mayor has run with the mayor's remarks in her campaign against former Councilman Todd, Gloria. Speaker 3: 04:26 This is another IRA in which mr. Gloria and I disagree. I agree with assembly member Loraina, Gonzalez Fletcher, and with mayor Faulkner. And I'm opposed to SB one 45. Listen, I'm a mom, and there's no case in which there is consensual sex between a 14 year old and a 24 year old, whether it's a girl, a boy gay sex, straight sex, Speaker 1: 04:51 And Andrew, of course, they're taking the extreme tenure gap there in the comments. What's been the response to these comments and KSI his role in this controversy. Speaker 2: 04:59 So besides coverage of this bill has used the word pedophilia, which should really be banished from this discussion altogether pedophilia as a psychiatric disorder, um, which you cannot criminalize. You can criminalize sexual acts. So that is really a red herring to begin with. Um, the other problem with mayor Faulkner's and council member breeze comments, there is they use the word consensual and this law does not change whether or not any sex act is considered consensual. It simply allows, again, it allows judges discretion in cases of, um, same sex sexual activity. Um, it is still considered statutory rape. It does not change, uh, the criminality involved and it is still considered not consensual. So, you know, it's difficult to have a rational discussion around this bill when there is so much disinformation and that this information is being by elected officials and people running for office. Um, I do also want to note that at quality California, which was a sponsor of this bill, put out a statement yesterday evening. And, um, they said in part, the rise of dangerous conspiracy theories and homophobic tropes about gay men is not a partisan or political issue. It is an issue of public safety. The disinformation campaign about this legislation was started on social media websites by Q Anon, a group that the FBI has labeled conspiracy theory driven domestic extremists. Speaker 1: 06:29 So Q Anon becomes a part of this conspiracy theory and it's part of their talking points now, Speaker 2: 06:35 Yes, at some point during the debate over this bill, um, this community of, of trolls and conspiracy theorists started spreading the lie that California was legalizing pedophilia, Scott Wiener, the Senator, the author of the bill received some really viral, homophobic and antisemitic attacks. And that was what equality California was alluding to. Um, as they also mentioned, the statement Q Alon Anon has been labeled a potential domestic terrorist threat by the FBI and, um, their lies and didn't disinformation have trickled up into the mainstream, um, to some extent, and I will acknowledge that neither Faulkner nor Bree said anything about legalizing pedophilia. Um, however their statements did, uh, spread some misinformation about this bill through suggestion and innuendo. And I think it's rather convenient that they can claim distance from Q Anon, um, but still sound like, um, you know, giving what sounded like legitimate reasons for opposing this law. When in fact, um, the language that they're using is simply not based. In fact, Speaker 1: 07:38 Now Senator Wiener notes, the bill is supported by organizations, including the California district attorneys association, the California police chiefs association, and children. Now, what about this controversy in the mayor's race? What's Todd Gloria got to say now, Speaker 2: 07:52 Well, he's defended his support for the bill. He said he wouldn't have supported it if it weren't for the endorsement of the district attorneys and the police chiefs in California, um, he has clarified a lot of the disinformation about the bill that it doesn't change the criminality, um, that it is, uh, the, you know, the intent of the bill is about just simply treating LGBT Californians equally under the law. And, uh, frankly, Mark, I think that, uh, you know, every time there's a public survey about how San Diego ans, uh, what issues San Diego are concerned about, the top of the list is always homelessness, housing affordability, um, more recently the economy and the Corona virus. So if the mayoral candidates are listening to voters, um, then I think that those are the issues that they'll be focusing on. Speaker 1: 08:38 I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen. Thanks very much, Andrew. Thank you, Mark.