Legislative Push to Make "Romeo and Juliet" Law Inclusive Advances
In a valiant attempt to extend legal protection for same-sex couples, Rep. González has authored HB 2403 that would remove gender restrictions in the "Romeo and Juliet" defense.
The Romeo and Juliet defense protects teenage couples under the age of 17 from prosecution who engage in consensual sexual activity as long as both are over 14 years old and within 3 years of age of each other. Also, the person, who would otherwise be considered the victim would have to be 15 for the protections to apply. If someone is 15 then they can have consensual sex with someone who is up to four years older than them.
Currently, Romeo and Juliet affirmatve defense explicitly only applies to heterosexual, cisgendered couples.
Also, the law would allow judges to re-examine and possibly de-register sex offenders. These already registered sex offenders must fit the above mentioned parameters.
According to a statement of support for the bill released by Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith:
"The state should not intrude on the right of parents to instill their values about sex into their children. Nor should the state interfere if teenage sweethearts make decisions that their parents believe are not what is best for them."
If the government has acknowledged and legally accepted that heterosexual couples want and will engage in consensual sex then the same recognition should be extended to same-sex couples.
Thankfully, on Tuesday the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence advanced Bill 2403 on a committee vote of 5-3.