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Horrifying 'Kill the Gays' Bill in California Can’t Be Killed

© Flickr / Philippa WillittsLGBT Flag
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A California attorney, for the small fee $200, proposed a ballot measure last month to violently kill all gays and lesbians, a proposition nearly everyone assumed would be promptly put to bed. However, because of a state law, the ISIL-like proposition will almost certainly be allowed to continue on to the next legislative phase.

The rather offensive “Sodomite Suppression Act” proposed by Huntington Beach attorney Matt McLaughlin would allow hetereosexuals to kill gays and lesbians by “bullets to the head,” or “any other convenient method.” In other words, it’s a bill that permits — no, encourages — the public to murder human beings. 

Though the state legislature’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus requested that the State Bar investigate McLaughlin’s ability to practice law, and a petition signed by thousands asked State Bar President Craig Holden to revoke McLaughlin license, the California legislature has no choice but to advance the bill to the signature-gathering stage.

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Under California law, the state attorney general — currently Kamala Harris — is charged with writing a title and summary for the proposal, but has no authority to scrap proposals, regardless of how ridiculous they are. The law was designed so that attorneys general wouldn’t be able to let their own politics influence which proposals pass through.

Sacramento Media consultant Carol Dahmen, who started the petition to disbar McLaughlin,  wants to draw attention to the need to reform the initiative system, which was initially created so that political activists could submit petitions to support causes they believe to be noteworthy. 

Dahmen went as far as to call McLaughlin the “poster boy of what is still wrong with the initiative process.”

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“It’s an interesting discussion about free speech, and I get that,” Dahmen said. “But this is a lawyer, and he’s advocating for murder.”

McLaughlin’s next step is to gether 365,880 signatures to advance his proposal to the next ballot — something no one believes will happen. 

“While you might say that this initiative is ‘clearly’ illegal (and I would agree), the notion of what is or is not ‘clearly’ illegal is not always so cut and dried,” political and election attorney Tom Hiltachk wrote in an email to the Sacramento Bee. “If you give the (attorney general) discretion, there may be cases in which she refused to issue a title and summary asserting that the measure was ‘clearly’ illegal.”

“While in this case, it seems foolish and perhaps unwise to issue a title and summary, the better approach is the current approach, prohibiting discretion, so that ‘close cases’ are not inappropriately derailed by a recalcitrant AG.”

UC Davis law professor and former criminal defense attorney Vikram Amar, presented a similar view. 

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“This one drips of evil, so the instinct is to say ‘Well, there’s got to be a way to avoid wasting everybody’s time,’” he said. “But in the law we often have limitations that are built not for the easy cases but because we are worried about the hard cases.”

Some of the more egregious parts of McLaughlin’s plan include a $1 million dollar fine for transmitting “sodomistic propaganda,” or 10 year imprisonment — or banishment from California for life. 

“This law is effective immediately and shall not be rendered ineffective nor invalidated by any court, state or federal, until heard by a quorum of the Supreme Court of California consisting only of judges who are neither sodomites nor subject to disqualification hereunder,” it states.

There are no obvious proponents of the measure other than McLaughlin himself.

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