Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Having Sex Is Fine; Talking About It Is a Crime

A bill that purports to address human sex trafficking, HB 130, has passed unanimously in the Ohio House of Representatives this past week.

One section, Section 2907.07 B (2), states:

No person shall solicit another, not the spouse of the offender, to engage
        in sexual conduct with the offender, when the offender is eighteen years 
        of age or older and four or more years older than the other person, and 
        the other person is sixteen or seventeen years of age whether or not the 
        offender knows of the age of the other person….

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo), has gone on record as saying, “The buying and selling of people is big business, folks…now we must finish what we started. Ending demand makes sense.”

The situations to which Section 2907.07 B (2) would be applied have nothing to do with buying and selling people or with supply and demand. This section does not address human trafficking. It does not address any issue that falls within the purview of the criminal justice system. With the legal age of consent in Ohio being sixteen, this does not address any behavior that is illegal or is the concern of anyone beyond two persons who are both of legal age to decide with whom they wish to have sexual contact.

Human trafficking is already defined in such a way that consensual sex is included provided that money is part of the exchange. This section makes no such requirement. This section does not make the act of sex with someone sixteen or seventeen illegal; that would remain legal. This section makes discussing it prior to the act illegal.

This section will require that a 21-year-old individual be charged and punished as a sexual criminal, including a requirement to register, for asking a 17 year old if she—or he—would be interested in having sex.

Any young man today is aware of the potential for allegations of rape or sexual assault. One way to minimize that risk is to engage in conversation prior to initiating sexual contact, conversation that makes clear that the other person equally desires the contact. This section of HB 130 makes that conversation illegal and punishable by law.

The entire bill, complete with Section 2907.07 B (2) has passed the Ohio House unanimously. It will be taken up by the Senate after summer break.

Section 2907.07 B (2) must be struck from the bill. To place individuals at risk of becoming felons because they wish to determine that a prospective sexual partner is fully willing is nonsensical at the highest level.

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