New Hampshire 'affirmative consent' bill copies California's By Ashe Schow
New Hampshire just became the second state after New York topropose adopting an “affirmative consent” law similar to the “yes means yes” law that passed recently in California.
New Hampshire Democratic state Rep. Renny Cushing drafted a bill modeled on California’s law and shared it with the Washington Examiner. He noted the main difference between his draft legislation and the California law, which applies to all public and private California colleges that receive state money in the form of student financial aid.
“It’s different because it’s going to apply to both public and private colleges and universities, and the incentive that we have here in New Hampshire to deal with the private universities is going to relate to their status as tax-exempt entities, or entities exempt from property taxes,” Cushing told the Examiner in a telephone interview.
“But other than that, I mean, I think it’s written from the same spirit of the California law. We want to try and change the culture here on campuses in New Hampshire.”
Other than the reference to the property tax exemption, the draft text of Cushing’s bill is copied and pasted directly from the California law, which requires “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity." The language stipulates that both individuals must gain consent, that “lack of protest” or silence does not mean consent, that consent “can be revoked at any time” and that past sexual relations do not equal consent.
This means all the problems with California’s consent law remain in place in the New Hampshire draft legislation.
Before he provided the text of his bill, Cushing evaded questions about whether it contained any protections for people accused of violating it. “Well, what it does is it establishes — you know, it directs the universities to adopt policies that provide for, you know, for an affirmative — policies of affirmative consent,” Cushing said. “And that’s the way that the language is drafted.”
Cushing said this isn’t the first time the issue of sexual assault on campus will come before the state legislature this year.
“Our private university, Dartmouth College, made the list of the top 55 targeted universities for, you know, failure to have policies that promote healthy interaction — I guess is how you would put it — with students,” Cushing said, referring to the list of schools under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for allegedly mishandling sexual assault reports.
“And the issue of sexual assault seems to be we needed to have a more thoughtful conversation,” Cushing said. “We need to change the dialogue and we need to start talking about prevention rather than have a legal concern about whether or not someone was capable of giving their consent.”
Cushing said there needed to be an emphasis on obtaining consent, otherwise “it’s not appropriate for people to engage in sexual activity.”
Cushing, who is vice chairman of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in the New Hampshire House, has three daughters, one who is about to enter college, another who just graduated and one who is a teacher.
“I think the issue of sexual assault — I think it’s important that men step up and take the leadership on this issue,” Cushing said. “It shouldn’t just be left to the responsibility of women to assert that they have the right not to be assaulted.”
“Men need to start saying that women have the right to not be assaulted, also.”