New York lawmakers are in the process of considering a bill that would close what they call a loophole in how sex crimes can be prosecuted. They say current state law allows someone accused of rape to use the victim’s voluntary intoxication as a legal defense.

William Rivera, interim executive director of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, calls language in current New York state law creating that loophole “codified victim blaming.”

He argued that giving individuals accused of sex crimes the opportunity to point to a victim's voluntary intoxication as a defense presents a different standard when compared to crimes like robbery or physical assault.

“If I was walking home and I was sexually assaulted because I voluntarily drank, that wouldn’t be a crime, but the robbery and physical assault on me would be a crime,” he said.

Rivera told Spectrum News 1 the organization is putting its support behind a bill that would change that, opening up the opportunity for prosecution in those cases.

Efforts to pass such a bill go back a few years, and co-sponsor state Sen. Nathalia Fernandez has made it a priority this session.

“This happens more to women, but it could happen to anybody and its really something we want to see closed so that victims can see justice for the assaults committed on them,” she said.

The bill is something that has bipartisan support. Assemblymember Ed Ra emphasized the need to stand behind victims.

“Protecting crime victims is an area where New York has plenty of room for improvement,” he told Spectrum News 1 in a statement. “This bill is a step in that direction. How a victim of sexual offense may have become intoxicated - whether voluntarily or involuntarily - has no bearing on their inability to give consent, nor should it limit a prosecutor’s ability to bring charges.”

Rivera hopes that bipartisan support will be a powerful message to fellow lawmakers, as well as all New Yorkers.

“To show that as a state, as New Yorkers, these actions will not be tolerated here, we’re going to protect each other and let people know this will not be allowed,” he said.

The standard set in the bill’s language for the law to apply is “a reasonable person in the defendant's position should have known that the victim was incapable of giving consent due to that intoxication."