California First in Nation to Enact “Yes Means Yes” Law

California Governor Jerry Brown signed bill SB-967 on Sunday which requires “affirmative consent” to sexual activity on college campuses statewide. The bill goes on to define affirmative consent as “conscious, voluntary… and ongoing throughout sexual activity,” and revokes acceptance of “passive consent” forms such as silence, intoxication, past sexual relations between the parties involved, and inability to communicate. The bill, which adds Section 67386 to the state’s Education Code, further requires postsecondary educational facilities in California to adopt “detailed and victim-centered policies and protocols” regarding all forms of sexual and domestic assault.

Critics of the bill claim that it is overreaching, unclear in its definitions, and values the rights of accusers over those of the accused. Gordon Finley, an adviser for the National Coalition of Men, pleaded for Gov. Brown to leave the bill unsigned, calling it a “campus rape crusade bill.” Proponents of the bill, on the other hand, point to its educational and proactive language. One UCLA student said of the bill, “It’s going to educate an entire new generation of students on what consent is and what consent is not… that the absence of a no is not a yes.”

Although SB-967 has its detractors in the editorial pages and among men’s rights activism groups, there was no opposition to the bill in the California Senate.

Story by Sara Krafft.