In response to this disturbing case that resulted in a dropped rape conviction because the victim was unmarried, California State Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), chair of the California Women’s Caucus, decided it’s time to expand a 1870s rape law that currently applies only to married victims. The new legislation, SB 59, would replace “spouse” with “sexually intimate partner,” extending a provision—which previously only counted sex-by-impersonation as rape if the victim is married—to all cohabitants, including single women and men, domestic partners and gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender pairs.
While this is, of course, a positive development, the fact that this antiquated provision is just now being altered and that the Los Angeles Court of Appeals did nothing to protect a rape victim who was further victimized by a legal loophole is infuriating. Senator Evans, who coauthored this California rape law along with 12 other senators, agrees:
I am shocked and appalled that the court didn’t see fit to uphold justice for this rape survivor. The fact that such an outdated loophole still exists is baffling, but I will introduce legislation this session that will bring uniform clarity. The definition of rape is found in the act itself and having sex with an unconscious person is rape. Period.