Statutory Is Statutory, Same Sex, Opposite Sex

kaitlyn huntMaybe I’m just confused, but what’s the kerfuffle over Floridian Kaitlyn Hunt, who’s been charged with a felony for having a relationship with a 15-year-old girl?  Same sex, opposite sex, still statutory, still a crime.

It’s Florida, so anti-gay bias isn’t out of the question; and a felony seems to be a little heavy-handed, but on the other hand, that appears to be the law in Florida, as it is the law in many other states.  Even in the progressive state of Illinois, the state legislature voted against the “Romeo and Juliet” bill, which “would have allowed sex offenders to petition to have their names and mugshots removed from the sex offender registry if their conviction involved sexual relations with someone at least 14-years-old and the offender was not more than 4 years older than the sexual partner.”

What I’m struggling with is the outcry.  A petition drive in favor of Hunt has garnered 40,000 signatures.  A group called “Free Kate” has come to life.  It appears that this case has been positioned as a slap against gay rights, and Hunt has become the poster child for anti-gay bias.

How come?

Call me crazy, but I believe firmly that the statutory laws are in place for a reason – to prevent the exploitation of young men and women who don’t have the ability to make informed decisions, who don’t have the ability to “consent.” Moving the boundaries on what constitutes statutory rape is a slippery slope.  After all, would we be hearing this same outcry in Chicago, if an 18-year-old black male were given a similar plea offer or a similar charge with a 15-year-old white female victim?

I’ve never heard of any such outcry for similar offenders here in Chicago, or anywhere else, for that matter.  While it may be true that the 15-year-old’s parents turned Hunt in because they don’t like the gay part, the same thing could hold true for a parent who doesn’t want their daughter in an inter-racial relationship, or just doesn’t like the offender.  The issue isn’t really the motivation of the minor’s parents; the issue is that you assume the risk in most states if you, as an adult, engage in a relationship with a minor.

The age of consent in most states is around 17 or 18; anyone under that legal age doesn’t have consent.  Though the charges and sentences vary, the law is clear – even two minors, in some states (such as Illinois), can report each other for sexual abuse.

This young lady may have been following her heart in the manner of Romeo and Juliet, but I’m not in favor of moving the goal posts on statutory rape.  Sex between minors is as common as dirt, and sex between “legal” adults and minors – such as 18 and 16 – is just as common.  But giving in to impulses and engaging in sexual relations with a minor carries risks.  What happens if we move the boundaries?  Would it be okay with a very mature 13-year-old and a 17-year-old?  How about a mature 16-year-old and a 20-year-old?

julie driscollHunt needs to work her way out of her legal quandary as best she can, and we don’t need petition drives and support groups clamoring on her behalf.  I haven’t heard an argument yet as to why she should be treated differently from any other offender in the State of Florida.

So go ahead, try.  Convince me.

Julie Driscoll
Smoking Hot Politics

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Published by the LA Progressive on May 21, 2013
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About Julie Driscoll

Julie is a 25-year veteran legal assistant in the Chicago legal community and, although always passionate about various causes, is a recent – within the past several years – entrant into the field of political activism. For a year and a half she was a writer for News Hounds, a website that is dedicated to critical analysis of Fox News (“We Watch Fox So You Don’t Have To”), is currently the Chicago Liberal Examiner for Examiner.com, is involved with the media side of the local MoveOn.org chapter, and runs multiple large political groups on Facebook. Although she began her activism through writing, she has more recently become a “boots on the ground” activist, having attended many protests on behalf of the unions in Madison, Wisconsin, Lansing, Michigan, and Chicago, as well as a rally in Benton Harbor, Michigan, advocating on behalf of the residents whose town has been taken over by the Emergency Financial Manager appointed by the Governor. Her causes are people-oriented . . . and her belief is that people need to be protected before dollars are counted. Her motto: Make sure people are safe, healthy, housed and fed – and screw the cost.