The most dangerous legislator in America?

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California State Senator Scott Wiener could be the most dangerous legislator in the nation.

That’s the lesson I took away from a great piece by Abigail Shrier I just read in City Journal, one of the best magazines in America.

It shines a light on Weiner’s one-man crusade to empower human traffickers in the State of California under the guise of protecting LGBTQIA+ rights. I’ve written about his work before, but I have focused not on the man but on the particular laws he has authored. For instance, I wrote about one law that promoted the trafficking of children to California to facilitate the transing of the kids.

Such laws get passed in California due to Weiner’s growing power in the state and his ability to bully his colleagues into passing ridiculous laws that endanger women and children, all in the name of protecting the rights of a minority. You can pretty much get anything passed as long as you slap some woke verbiage into the description.

So what sorts of laws has he been promoting?

… in a political era defined by legislative gridlock in Washington, Wiener stands out as one of the nation’s most effective lawmakers. In the six years since the Harvard Law grad took office, he has managed to author, and get passed, a series of radical gender- and sex-related bills. The measures have allowed biological male felons to self-ID their way into women’s prisons; assigned criminal penalties to health-care workers who fail to provide gender-affirming care; made California a “sanctuary state” for LGBTQ youth; expanded access to “gender-affirming care” for LGBTQ-identified youth, with and without parental approval; proposed jail time for health-care workers who “willfully and repeatedly” misgender a patient (i.e., refer to them in a way at odds with their gender identity); decriminalized the intentional exposure of a sexual partner to HIV; and reduced criminal penalties for sex offenders.

Another Wiener bill, introduced in 2021, sought to decriminalize psilocybin and ketamine, but it failed to pass, partly because of the vocal opposition of former state senate Republican Melissa Melendez, who railed against easing restrictions on ketamine, a drug notorious for facilitating date rape.

And as Shrier describes in the opening to her piece, Weiner got a law passed that vastly expanded the street prostitution trade, by removing all penalties for a loitering law that gave police probable cause to arrest street prostitutes. In practical terms that meant that police couldn’t identify minors who were being trafficked and separate them from their abusive pimps. The result has been drastic–the number of young women escaping sex slavery in California has dropped to near zero.

Sergeant Marcos Campos of the Oakland Police Department told me that his force rescued 24 underage girls from the streets in 2021. But in 2022, that number dropped to 14—most from before the law was signed. “Since, I believe, July, when we were officially told it passed, we have been directed by the district attorney’s office to not arrest for [statute] 653.22, which is loitering,” he said.

You might wonder, at this point, who actually benefits from SB 357. Sergeant Campos wonders, too. Not the communities, he said, for whom a rise in trafficking brings more gun violence, which often attends prostitution. Not the sex workers, many of whom rely on police officers for help in escaping their pimps. “I think if anything, it probably helped the sex traffickers the most,” Campos said.

Whatever you think of sex work–I think it is abusive and dehumanizing, and streetwalkers are hardly well-paid escorts showered with champagne, removing the ability of police to intervene when an underage girl is being sold on the street is evil. And that is the effect of the law.

hy would anyone propose such a law? Why would the California State Legislature pass it? I asked the bill’s author, San Francisco–based state senator Scott Wiener. The answer he gave is the one that he supplies for so many of the bills he authors: it was necessary to advance the rights of LGBTQ people. “If you are standing on the sidewalk with high heels, and you wear your hair a certain way, and you wear tight clothing, an officer can say, ‘I think you’re loitering with the intent to commit prostitution’ and arrest you,” Wiener said. “That is not how we should be doing things in the United States of America—arresting people for how they look,” he continued. “And when you do that, not surprisingly, it’s only certain kinds of people who actually get arrested: it’s trans women. It’s black women. . . . It’s an inherently profiling law,” he said. “Randomly arresting a bunch of black trans women for how they look is not protecting potential victims of human trafficking.”

As with so much of what Weiner says, that’s pure BS. The vast vast majority of prostitutes on the street are garden-variety 100% pure women, and they aren’t doing this on their own. They are being pimped out by an abuser, not even getting much of the take from her 9-21 clients a day.

That’s not “work,” it’s torture. Weiner defends his laws as protecting LGBTQIA+ youth.

But if some of Wiener’s bills seek to protect LGBTQ youth, they also represent a golden opportunity for a different group: adults who would take advantage of them. Wiener “is an extremely dangerous person, [so] extremely dangerous that I cannot believe that people cannot read in between the lines,” said Marisa Ugarte, who runs the anti-trafficking nonprofit, Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition, based in National City, just south of San Diego. Wiener is turning California, she warned, into “a sex-trafficking paradise.”

Whatever the intent behind many of his bills, this does seem to be their effect: to make life better for sexual predators. Consider the Wiener-authored SB 145, a 2020 measure that amended the sex-offender registration laws in California, so that an adult having anal or oral sex with a minor could avoid getting placed on the sex-offender registry, as long as the child was at least 14 and the adult was no more than a decade older.

Weiner’s excuse for passing such a law is that certain kinds of statutory rape were treated differently than others, and in this he was correct. But rather than try to expand protections for children from predators in their 20s having sex with 14-year-olds, he contracted the protections instead, immunizing gay pedophiles in their 20s immune from prosecution:

But who exactly are these “queer kids” and “gay kids” he’s talking about? He can’t be referring to the young gay teens who are the victims of felony statutory rape; those minors weren’t being discriminated against by the law—they were being protected by its bright-line insistence that they were sexually off-limits to predatory adults. When he refers to discrimination against “queer kids,” Wiener seems actually to be concerned with the law’s unfairness to the perpetrators of felony statutory rape. That is, he worries about a twentysomething adult—a “kid,” in his turn of phrase—who has sex with a minor.

Many of us would reasonably oppose the prosecution of, say, an 18-year-old high school senior arrested for a consensual sexual encounter with his 16-year-old boyfriend or girlfriend. But in California, that scenario doesn’t describe a felony, and does not require anyone to register as a sex offender. Wiener’s bill deals with older offenders who have sexual relations with 14- or 15-year-old kids. I asked him why those young teens shouldn’t deserve the protection of the law. “Then why aren’t you asking this of any other legislator?” he replied. “I mean, honestly, what you’re doing is you’re saying to the gay people who are just asking to be treated equally: Why don’t you change everything for everyone? And no one’s asking that of any straight legislator.”

The answer, of course, is that in deep Blue California, it would never pass, partly because Weiner would oppose it. This is the legislator who decriminalized knowingly infecting a person with HIV. Weiner uses the veneer of standing up for the gay community as an excuse to turn California into what Shrier calls a “predator’s paradise,” where victimizers gain ever more power over victims. The opposite of what he espouses.

The equality argument is Wiener’s classic sleight of hand, and he’s practiced it many times. When he authored the bill to eliminate the felony penalty enhancement for knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV, for example, he claimed the mantle of fighting the “discrimination” against those living with the disease. But, as a consequence of the bill, there is now no justice for a gay man infected with HIV by a sex partner who lied about it. The violation of his consent and bodily integrity now go unvindicated. Similarly, the violent reality of today’s pimp-dominated sex trade seems to have escaped Wiener’s legislative pen.

There is one law in particular passed by Weiner that garnered my attention, and the attention of child advocates across the nation. His so-called “sanctuary law” for adults seeking to get “gender-affirming” medical treatments for children even when in violation of court orders from other states. It is an assault on the Constitution’s “Full Faith and Credit” clause.

Nowhere is the disconnect between Wiener’s talk of LGBTQ civil rights and the on-the-ground effects of his bills more obvious than with his “sanctuary state” legislation, SB 107. Enacted in January 2023, the law purported to turn California into a “state of refuge for trans kids and their families,” as Wiener declared on Twitter.

To understand the impact of this law, one should begin with the bill that it amends: California’s Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which deters interstate forum shopping and parental kidnapping by making the jurisdiction in custody disputes the exclusive province of the home-state courts. Forty-nine of 50 states, including California, adopted this rule, voluntarily limiting the jurisdiction of their courts. For example, a father under investigation by Wisconsin Child Protective Services cannot simply flee with his kid to Michigan to have his custody determination adjudicated in a jurisdiction that he considers more favorable.

But Wiener’s sanctuary state bill now amends California’s UCCJEA, to allow California courts to exercise jurisdiction where the parents would otherwise be prosecuted in their home states for having medically transitioned their minor children. A reaction to the laws in various states that have criminalized gender medical treatments on minors, the bill halts the extradition of such parents for these home-state offenses and refuses to cooperate with out-of-state law enforcement for this purpose.

Essentially this law enables the kidnapping of children if the purpose is to mutilate and sterilize them. Chances are good that this provision of the law would be ruled unconstitutional, as it appears to be so on its face. But Weiner inserted a second provision of the bill that is less dubious constitutionally: allowing the California Courts to take custody of the children directly if they determine that they are not being allowed to get “gender-affirming” care.

But there is another, arguably more mischievous, provision of the sanctuary state bill. It states: “A court of this state has temporary emergency jurisdiction if the child is present in this state and the child has been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, or a sibling or a parent of the child, is subjected to, or threatened with, mistreatment or abuse, or because the child has been unable to obtain gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care” [emphasis added].

Essentially the law defines not providing gender-affirming health care as child abuse, giving the Court jurisdiction over the child. It is a neat legal sleight of hand, and probably harder to challenge. We shall see.

Shrier rightly points out that it is pointless to speculate on Weiner’s motives. Evil or not, the effect is the same. And the effects of Weiner’s efforts are horrendous.

Still, Weiner’s power in California is unlikely to shrink. He could easily take Nancy Pelosi’s seat whenever she retires, but would that be a step up for him? He is one of the most powerful men in California, meaning he is one of the most powerful in the country. Becoming a freshman legislator in a competitive caucus might not appeal as much as being one of the top dogs in a state as large as many countries and with a GDP that rivals Germany’s.

Whatever his ambitions, as of today Weiner qualifies as perhaps the most dangerous legislator in America. He has spearheaded laws that endanger children, facilitate sex trafficking, encourage the spread of deadly diseases, encourage kidnapping, and decriminalize some pedophilia.

That’s quite a record, even for a Harvard man.


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