Gay rights issue should not be in play

A Florida teen's defense of relationship rests on the prosecution being anti-gay

WRITTEN BY: Cynthia Martin

Gay rights activist are fighting for a Florida teen’s release after she was arrested for having a sexual relationship with a minor. They claim that Kaitlyn Hunt, 18, is being unfairly prosecuted because she is gay.

Every day sees another gay rights story. I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t have such a focus on the issue. There are many things that still need to be addressed. But this is one story that is being blown out of proportion.

Kaitlyn Hunt was arrested in February for a sexual relationship she was in with a 14-year-old classmate. Supporters of Hunt claim that the relationship was consensual and that they had been dating since November 2012. Gay rights activists also point out that Hunt and the “victim” are in love.

But one has to question whether this is actually a gay rights issue.

I’ll admit that homophobia is how it all started. Hunt’s girlfriend’s parents are the ones who brought the relationship to the police. Sources say they blame Hunt for their daughter’s homosexuality. But the parent’s bigotry aside, this is still a case of an adult and a minor in a relationship.

For most states, the law shows that anyone under 16 years old is incapable of consenting to sex. And any adult in a sexual relationship with a minor is guilty of taking advantage of a minor.

By no means do I think Hunt took advantage of her girlfriend. But had this been an 18-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl, there would be no public outrage about him being prosecuted. Gay rights activists are using Hunt’s case to further their own agenda, regardless of the harm they could cause by setting a precedent.

It’s fair to say that Hunt’s relationship came to police attention for the wrong reason. The girlfriend’s parents waited until after Hunt turned 18 before going to the police. That’s a clear act against gay rights. Police’s decision to pursue the case is not.

Hunt’s parents have started a petition on Change.org for the teen’s release. The petition, “Stop the hate, free Kate,” has more than 56,500 signatures. The Facebook group, “Free Kate,” adds another 21,000 supporters.

The validity of this case should not rest on gay rights. What it should be used to look at is the age of consent. Both Hunt and her girlfriend are high school age. They’re going to make high schooler mistakes. The two are peers. And with kids becoming sexually active at younger ages, we as a society really need to look at how we define things like statutory rape and "lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12-16 years of age."

A four year age difference is not cause for alarm with adults. So why should two high schoolers be punished for being in two different grades? Regardless of sexual orientation. That should be public concern, not that it’s a violation of gay rights.

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