I have good news to report on the Counseling Ban legislation! Both the MA House and Senate held their final formal sessions for 2017 this week and the bill did NOT come out of committee for a vote. This means that the bill cannot be voted on until 2018 at the earliest. While the inner workings of the State House are not exactly what you’d call “transparent,” we do know that your calls last week made a difference. Thank you for your efforts in beating back this horrible bill. We will continue to work to stop it in the new year and keep you posted for how you can help.
We also had another legislative victory this month that was largely overlooked in the last minute scramble to oppose the Counseling Ban. Both the House and the Senate have been working on copious criminal justice reform bills. In late October, the MA Senate passed a version that lowered the age of consent for sex between children and young adults close in age. This so-called “Romeo and Juliet” provision would exempt older teenagers from being charged with statutory rape against children as young as 13. (The current age of consent in Massachusetts is 16.)
MFI opposed this legislation and spoke out against it in the media. But when I reviewed the final version of the bill, published after being passed by the Senate at 1:30 in the morning, I was shocked to see what they had done. The statutory rape provision had been altered to not only lower the age of consent but to eliminate it altogether for “unnatural sexual intercourse!” As uncomfortable as it is to even discuss these things, we cannot ignore the threat they pose to our families. If this bill were to become law, it would mean that adults could perform non-procreative sex acts with children of any age as long as it was “consensual,” and they could not be prosecuted under state statutory rape laws. A man could have anal or oral sex with a 14 year old, and it would no longer be criminal. In other words, the MA Senate had just passed a bill that would decriminalize a wide range of pedophilia!
I started calling senators immediately, and no one seemed to know what had been done. New Boston Post picked up the story and finally Senator Brownsberger admitted that it was a mistake, possibly made by a legislative staffer, and no one realized what had happened. Although we can only speculate at this point as to why the term “unnatural sexual intercourse” was removed from the provision on statutory rape, one plausible explanation is that this staff member found the term offensive to the LGBT movement and removed it. We’ve seen this push in other bills that seek to eliminate “archaic language.” The problem is, that term is legally necessary under state law to protect children from abuse.
The good news out of all this is that after we brought it to the attention of friendly legislators, the House’s version of the bill emerged without changing statutory rape at all and left the age of consent for ALL SEX ACTS at 16. We will certainly keep an eye on this legislation as well and alert you if the provision somehow gets reintroduced.
Thank you again for your help in defending our families!
For our families,