(Photo courtesy of http://janetfraser.id.au)

by Jade Hanley

California has become the first state to enact a law where a verbal “yes” is required for sexual conduct to be considered consensual.

The bill, referred to as “Yes Means Yes,” is the first sexual consent law where “consent” translates to an “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement.”

As of now, law suggests that “No Means No,” meaning that if you are silent, don’t refrain or resist, it is still consensual to some degree; you have to be able to say “no,” even if the situation at hand doesn’t always allow for this.

The “Yes Means Yes” law, which was pushed into place by Sen. Kevin Leon, is a step forward for the nation and sexual consent. By putting this law into action, California is setting an example as to what the standard should be.

Leon said, “We will lead the nation so we can create an environment that’s healthy, not just for woman, but for young men as well, so young men can develop healthy patterns and boundaries as they age with the opposite sex.”

California took another step forward this week by doing away with “Panic Defenses,” which is when a defendant in a murder trial is allowed to argue a lesser sentence for their crime because they acted in the shock of their victim being gay or transgender. By taking away Panic Defenses, California took away the use of sexual orientation as a defense in court.

California is leading the way in setting values for sexual consent and the sexual safety of the legal system. Leon says, ““Yes Means Yes” will lead the entire country, the nation.” Now it’s only a waiting game to see how the other 49 states respond.