A new law has just been passed in Texas that is sure to ruffle some feathers, particularly for social conservatives. Really it’s more of an amendment to existing law and I’m not sure where I stand on this one. It’s been nicknamed the Romeo and Juliet law. It basically lowers the age of consent for teenagers from eighteen to fifteen and protects the consensual partner from prosecution on statutory rape charges, through the age of nineteen. Here’s the upside: under the current law, anyone who had sex in high school or immediately out of school who happened to be at least eighteen and had sex with a younger student could be prosecuted and wind up on the state sex offender list indefinitely. Obviously, this precludes him or her from all kinds of work, and will follow the offender where ever they go. It also inflates the sex offender numbers making it difficult to distinguish a potential threat from someone who merely made a mistake as an adolescent.
We’ve all heard horror stories about young people being put on the state’s list, despite eventually marrying their “victims.” I don’t know how often that kind of thing happens, but I don’t deem anyone who had sex as an adolescent to be a threat to my loved ones. Of course many social conservatives (with whom I often agree mind you), will argue that this merely continues to make society more permissive. Now, I’m willing to be taken to task on this but, I really don’t think this legal change is going to result in increased promiscuity. How many teens are really holding off on sex due to the threat of prosecution? All the new law really does is highlight the unfortunate lais·sez-faireapproach to sexuality that is predominate in our society. It’s not government’s job to inculcate values into our families. An old governmental principle states that a leader should never make a law he is unable to enforce. That’s what the statutory rape laws had become, largely unenforceable. As I see it, all the state of Texas did, was make the law enforceable.