California governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a sexual assault bill, known as the “Yes Means Yes” Law, that will define specifically when a person consents to sexual activity.
The Yes Means Yes law, officially SB 967, is meant to curb the number of sexual assaults taking place on college campuses in California, according to MSN. The Yes Means Yes law is necessary, sponsor California legislator Kevin DeLeon says, because too many college students assume that sexual activity is okay if the other person does not actually say “No.” This means that someone who is drunk, asleep, unconscious, or drugged (for example, by so-called “Date Rape” drugs), cannot consent. The bill does allow for “nonverbal” consent, such as hand gestures or nodding the head.
“Every student deserves a learning environment that is safe and healthy. The State of California will not allow schools to sweep rape cases under the rug. We’ve shifted the conversation regarding sexual assault to one of prevention, justice, and healing.”
The Yes Means Yes law was approved by California lawmakers earlier this month, but had sat on Governor Brown’s desk until Sunday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. On September 16, a coalition of groups composed of sexual assault survivors and women’s advocacy groups brought a petition to the governor asking him to sign the law.
The Yes Means Yes law has met with some opposition, according to USA Today. Florida International University’s Gordon Finley, speaking on behalf of the group National Coalition for Men, said he believes that the Yes Means Yes bill makes it too easy for innocent men to be wrongly accused of sexual assault.
“It is tragically clear that this campus rape crusade bill presumes the veracity of accusers (a.k.a. ‘survivors’) and likewise presumes the guilt of accused (virtually all men). This is nice for the accusers – both false accusers as well as true accusers — but what about the due process rights of the accused?”
The Yes Means Yes law is part of a larger move to address the problem of sexual assaults on college campuses across the country. President Obama has also started a campaign, called “It’s On Us,” to raise awareness of the problem. Mad Men actor Jon Hamm is now a spokesperson for the campaign, according to this Inquisitr report.
The Yes Means Yes law will only apply to colleges and universities in California receiving state funding.
[Image courtesy of: Public Health Watch]