Senate Bill 59, by Democratic Sen. Noreen Evans, was introduced in response to the Los Angeles-based 2nd District Court of Appeal's decision to throw out the conviction of a man who was accused of raping a woman while she was asleep in bed. The court's ruling was based on defendant Julio Morales' claim that the victim was awake and could have been under the impression that he was her boyfriend. Current law, the court said, provides protections for victims raped by someone impersonating their spouse, but not other sexual partners.
"Justice should not be conditioned on a person's marital status or sexual orientation," Evans said in introducing the bill on the floor.
Republican Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian is carrying a second bill on the same issue. The San Luis Obispo Republican authored similar legislation in 2011 that failed to clear the Senate Public Safety Committee.
Evans' version passed the Senate on a bipartisan 37-0 vote. Senate GOP leader Bob Huff spoke in support of the measure. He raised questions about a Public Safety Committee policy to hold bills that could cause the prison population to rise.
The bill, which requires a two-thirds vote so it can take effect immediately, now heads to the Assembly for consideration.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, in a 2009 file photo. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee.