Let's say an 18-year-old boy takes a 17-year-old girl to the movies and buys her popcorn to eat during the movie. Then let's say these two teenagers share some sort of consensual sexual interaction after the movie. You have to admit, this scenario is pretty pedestrian. It happens every night of the week all over the state of California.
Yes, it is illegal to have sex with someone who is underage. But do we really want to see a penalty intended for sex traffickers imposed upon someone who has barely become an adult and perhaps didn't even know that their sexual partner was underage? If you stop for a moment and envision this scenario happening in the case of a teenager you know, your first response will probably be, "That could never happen."
But the wording of Proposition 35 allows anything of value being given or received by any person to qualify as "payment" for an act of prostitution. And, since we are talking about statutory rape, construing popcorn and a movie as payment for sex is well within the wording of this proposed legislation. While it may be unlikely that the boy next door will see the inside of a prison for getting carried away with his underage girlfriend, imagine how this law might be used to persecute less beloved citizens of the state. What if the teenagers are gay? What if they are black or Latino? What if someone decides to prosecute to the full extent of the law? Wouldn't it be better for all concerned if our laws were clear, concise and devoid of any ulterior agendas?
Californians deserve better. Send Proposition 35 back to the drafters by voting "no."
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