News & Politics

California Lawyer Initiates 'Shoot the Gays' Measure

Insane proposed measure was actually allowed to go forward.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

A Southern California lawyer recently submitted a violent and homophobic measure for state review that would legalize state-sanctioned murder of any person who engages in sexual pleasure with someone of the same gender, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Matt McLaughlin paid the $200 fee late February to submit the “Sodomite Suppression Act” to California voters. The measure would make it a crime to advocate gay rights to audiences that include minors. Those convicted would face up to 10 years in prison.

What is the constitutionality of this ridiculous measure? Under McLaughlin’s logic, that could only be determined by a state Supreme Court that is free of LGBT judges or their advocates. And if the state fails to take action on any conviction within a year, the act permits private citizens to step in as executioners. Another insane provision of the act requires that it be posted at every public school in the state.

As inhumane and sick as this bill is, there is little that California Attorney General Kamala Davis can do to stop McLaughlin from moving forward with it. Because he has paid his fee, the attorney general must prepare a title and 100-word summary of the initiative and forward it to the secretary of state for a 90-day period of public signature-gathering. Harris is scheduled to take this action May 4, according to the secretary of state website. It doesn’t seem she has any authority to trash any ballot initiative, no matter how disgusting it is.

The McLaughlin proposal would need 365,000 valid signatures to make the 2016 ballot.

Besides being sick and inhumane, this act is unconstitutional. People cannot be prosecuted for consensual sexual activity. People can’t be locked up for expressing a point of view. Not that we need any research to defend against this mockery of a proposal, but a recent poll reveals that most Americans support same-sex marriage. In California, a 2013 poll reveals that 61 percent of residents supported same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, State Senator Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County) wants McLaughlin to be disbarred.

“I support freedom of speech,” he said, “but calling for state-sanctioned execution of a protected class calls into question the proponent’s character and judgment.”

But as Mark Joseph Stern wrote at Slate, it is unlikely that McLaughlin will be disbarred because the California State Bar only disciplines members for “moral turpitude” in relation to their work and clients, not protected speech.

So basically, McLaughlin has the right to be a homophobic lawyer and even try to make it legal to be violently hateful against his fellow Americans. And the state of California has to deal with his foolishness, to an extent.

It’s one of those unfortunate situations in which freedom of speech kinda sucks.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior editor at AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @Russian_Starr.

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