State lawmakers eyeing change to age of consent law

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Two Hoosier lawmakers are making a push to raise the age of consent in Indiana.

State Representative Karlee Macer, (D-Indianapolis) and State Senator Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond) both have introduced bills to raise the age of consent to 18.

Indiana law currently allows anyone over the age of 16 to consent to a sexual encounter, though makes it a crime for anyone in a position of power (i.e. parents, guardians, teachers, law enforcement officers) to have sex with someone under the age of 18.

“18 at least you can make some adult choices, go to the service, or to vote, so there’s a sense of maturity there. 16 you can be influenced by almost anybody,” Mrvan said.

Macer introduced her bill into the House. She also introduced a similar bill last year.

Mrvan says his goal is to provide protection for those too young to consent, while also stiffening the punishment for those who break the law.

Under his bill, anyone over the age of 22 that engages in sexual intercourse, or sexual misconduct (touching, fondling), with a 16 or 17 year-old would be charged with a felony.

“I just hate with a passion the idea of a predator or a pedophile with children,” Mrvan said.

Advocates like those with the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault say while Mrvan’s and Macer’s bills have good intentions, the larger issue isn’t about age of consent, rather the definition of consent.

“It’s a conversation that needs to start at a whole different point than let’s raise the age of consent to 18,” Laurie Gray said.

According to Gray, to really protect victims, the state would have to look at consent much the way it does property rights.

“And that’s the difference between no means no and yes means yes. No means no means if I say no and you think I mean it you should stop, as opposed to continuing to force me to have sex. But with yes means yes, you should assume that I don’t want to have sex. The same way that I don’t want you to take my car or my money,” she said.

Gray says another issue she has with the bills are that they do not contain a “Romeo and Juliet” statute, and that they don’t raise the age someone who can get married to an 18-year-old.

“Give me one good reason that a child should be able to enter a marriage contract,” she said.

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