I do not advocate or condone sexual abuse, exploitation, assault, or any other relations between children and adults. I believe that sex crimes should be punished justly, and acknowledge that the pain suffered by victims of sex crimes and their families is real and incomprehensible to most of us. My belief is that there are better ways to manage how we treat individuals convicted of sex crimes after they have completed their sentences - methods that do not put them or their families in danger and make it possible for them to become contributing, stable members of the community. I am confident that by utilizing research, statistics and science, we can craft laws that educate children and adults about the truth behind sex crimes, and effectively prevent these crimes from happening in the first place.
Occasionally when going about mundane activities such as running errands, pumping gas, or walking my dogs, I find myself wondering what the people I encounter might assume about me. I think I'm a fairly pleasant person; I try to smile and wave if I catch someone's eye, I make a point to be genial with cashiers, receptionists and other customers. I hold the door for people, say thank you and excuse me. Those who are acquainted with me know I have a soft spot for rescue dogs, love my job as a church pianist and thoroughly enjoy a good game of Pictionary. I'm often described as charming, passionate and clever. I bet if I were to tell most people I interact with regularly that I regularly fear for my safety in my own home, they would be confused, and if I asked them, would say that someone like me shouldn't have to feel that way.
But do they really believe that? If these pleasant strangers were to discover that I share my life and my home with someone who, according to New York state, is a "sexually violent predator" - would they still feel that me and all my charms deserve the same right to privacy and stability that they do? Would they go home and tell their family not to go near me or my house because they might get violently and sexually preyed upon? Would all the things they like and know about me, become meaningless?
I would like to hope that somehow, the good they know about me would be enough for them to stop and think for a second, that maybe everything they've heard and been told about sex offenders might not be true, if a person like me loves one. I would really like to hope that after meeting the sweet, gentle, compassionate man I love, they might question the validity behind his inflammatory label - and see how easy it truly is for good people to make mistakes - or simply get caught up in the aftermath because they love someone who has.
By supporting the public sex offender registry and consciously remaining unaware of the facts, society is telling me that I have no right to safety or security; that it's okay for me to be ostracized; and that I do not deserve to be happy with the person I love. They would never know it if they passed me on the street - or even if they interacted with me. I look, act, and talk like almost everyone else . Not the fact that I am a human being, an American, or a woman are enough to grant me the right to freedom or basic privacy - the darkest day of my loved one's past is the sole determining factor of my worth.
I don't think I'm amazing, or particularly spectacular. I think I am pretty normal. I don't think I deserve better treatment than anyone else. But I do think I deserve the right to be me, unapologetically and without fear. That includes sharing my life and home with the person I love. Would you deny me that? Would you deny anyone that? I want someone to come up to me and tell me, to my face, how in hell that protects children, families or anyone. Can you?