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COMMENTARY: Kaitlyn Hunt stands and fights

(Editor’s note: The weekly SDGLN Poll asks this question: Do you think Kaitlyn Hunt should be punished for lesbian relationship with minor? To vote in the poll, click HERE.)

So, Kaitlyn “Kate” Hunt has decided to fight the State of Florida. The 18-year-old from Sebastian, Fla., has decided to fight the two felony charges of “lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 – 16 years of age” for her high-school romance with a younger girl.

On Friday morning, May 24, she rejected a plea deal that had been placed on the table by the Indian River County District Attorney’s Office. She is scheduled to go to court on June 20. If convicted, she could face up to 15 years in jail and would have to register as a sex offender.

So much has happened since my first commentary was published last Tuesday.

If you read the commentary later in the week, it would certainly have seemed like I had my facts a little askew. However, when I wrote the commentary, the arrest report had not been released, so my facts were based on what had been published in the media at the time of my writing.

I also asked the following questions:

“But seriously, does this happen when a boy is 18 and the girl is 15 or the girl is 18 and the boy is 15? Would anyone even report it?”

“Tell me young boys don’t have sex with girls older than 18 – seriously. How many of them have been expelled from school and have a permanent record for lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years old? “

Several people took me to task for not having my facts about the law in order before I asked these questions. I have since read and understood that yes, indeed, young men are arrested and convicted, sometimes unjustly, for exactly what Kate is being accused of. My apologies for not doing my due diligence and for not understanding the importance of what I was leaving out of my conversation.

Human Rights Watch published a 111-page report on the perils of the public registration law called: Raised on the Registry: The Irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the US.

This report is eye-opening and really should be read by anyone who believes that the current laws in any state of the union should be revisited and mostly rewritten. These Sex Offender Registries are a travesty. Are they needed? Yes, of course they are, but they need to be brought into the 21st century.

Kate’s decision to stand and fight is, in my eyes, very brave. As the law is written, she is guilty for that of which she is being accused. And it is after all a court of law – not a court of justice. If she is convicted – and gets placed on a registry – her life is pretty much over - at age 18 – for being in love and for having consensual sex.

This case haunts me because it was my life some 46 years ago. I was 15 and she was 17. She turned 18 and I turned 16. Like Kaitlyn said in her arrest report: “… she had never been in love with anybody else like her.” That was me.

As “lewd and lascivious” as it may seem to some people, and as wrong as the law may make it appear, it was the only thing in my 15-16-year-old life that made any sense to me. She was the first person who really got who I was, the first person with whom I didn’t have to pretend or change the way I acted. She certainly didn’t “make” me gay; she made me feel that it was perfectly normal for me to be who I was. She made me feel worthy and loved not different and dirty. Perhaps this is what Kaitlyn and this young woman shared.

I don’t have the answers. All I seem to have is questions. How do we change the laws so young people in love, having consensual sex, are not thrown to the wolves? Many kids in high school are going to have sex – this is just the way it is. So much is written, so much has been said, but the simple truth is this: It’s life.

Do we continue to punish kids for trying to find their way, or do we make laws that understand and support human behavior?

I just don’t know.

But I do know it’s not wrong to want to hold and love the only person in the world who may understand who you are. And I do know it’s not wrong to want to spend time with the only person with whom you can talk about anything, the only person who will actually listen, the only person who may understand. Gay, straight, male or female, 18 or 15, mutual love and affection should never send you to jail or land your name on a list of predators – ever.

SDGLN Contributor Barb Hamp Weicksel was born in 1952 in Pennsylvania and moved to California in the early 1980s, where she met her partner Susan. They've been together some 30 years and share the love of Susan's four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her blog, Barb's Gift of Gab, can be found HERE.