Sodomite Suppression Act

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The Sodomite Suppression Act, also known as the "Shoot The Gays Initiative"[1][2] or "Kill The Gays Initiative",[3][4] was a California ballot initiative proposed by Matt McLaughlin, an Orange County lawyer, that outlines seven measures relating to same-sex people engaging in sodomy including death for anyone who participates.[5][6][7] McLaughlin's act calls for the killing of gays and lesbians by "bullets to the head" or "any other convenient method."[7] This proposed initiative is subject to a court order barring it from being distributed for signatures after a Sacramento County judge granted California Attorney General Kamala Harris's request to declare the initiative facially unconstitutional and therefore ineligible to receive a ballot title or summary.[8]

Background[edit]

McLaughlin had a similar Biblical inspiration for an initiative in 2004 when he sponsored the "King James Bible as Textbook initiative", "which would amend the Constitution to allow teachers to use the Bible in literature classes."[6][9]

McLaughlin's proposal was received by the CA Office of the Attorney General on February 26 along with the $200 filing fee.[5]

State Attorney General Kamala Harris was compelled to provide an official title and summary before the initiative signature-collective effort can proceed.[10] Harris cited public safety and constitutionality of the initiative, stating "This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible and has no place in a civil society."[11] She asked the Superior Court to relieve her of the obligation freeing the author to seek the signatures.[11] Harris is widely seen as being supportive of LGBT people and wanted to not be a part of a process that "seeks to legalize discrimination and vigilantism" unless there was no alternative.[11] Once authorized it needs 365,880 valid signatures to qualify for the 2016 presidential election ballot.[7]

On June 23, 2015, a Sacramento County judge issued a ruling stating that the proposed initiative was not constitutional, and therefore Attorney General Harris is not required to provide an official title or summary. As a result, the initiative cannot be distributed for signatures, effectively killing its chances of being included on a statewide ballot.[8]

Reaction[edit]

The Atlantic states the initiative, "which refers to homosexuality as 'a monstrous evil' and an 'abominable crime against nature,' would ban communicating messages of tolerance to minors; bar gays and lesbians, or anyone who voices acceptance, from holding government jobs or public office; and authorize mass murder" of lesbians and gays.[10] The Atlantic stated that although the initiative was unlikely to get the needed signatures, and would probably be thrown out after the 2016 elections even if it did pass, still represented a test case of permissiveness in California's ballot process that would allow a "genocidal proposition".[10] Senator Mark Leno stated, "These are the very challenges of our First Amendment right to free speech."[7]

California Attorney General Kamala Harris tried to block the initiative as it "threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society."[7]

The California Legislative LGBT Caucus filed a formal complaint to have McLaughlin disbarred.[7] Another gay Senator, Ricardo Lara stated that the "caucus is concerned that McLaughlin has run afoul of the state bar's moral character requirement for practicing attorneys."[7] The caucus letter states shock that anyone would call for the execution of LGBT people.[7] The Bay Area Reporter stated, "state bar's rules of conduct, section 2-400, stipulates that licensed practitioners are prohibited from discriminating based on sexual orientation, among other protected classes."[7] A Change.org petition, "Disbar lawyer who wants to legalize the murder of LGBT people", has 101,722 supporters as of the end of March 2015.[7]

Related Initiatives[edit]

In an effort to defend the LGBT community, Dr. Charlotte Laws drafted her own initiative called the "Intolerant Jackass Act"[12] and submitted it to the Attorney General's office on March 23, 2015. It stated that "any person, herein known as an intolerant jackass, who brings forth a ballot measure that suggests the killing of gays and/or lesbians, shall be required to attend sensitivity training" and donate $5,000 to an LGBT cause. Laws said she had no intention of circulating her measure for signatures. It was created merely to mock McLaughlin and take his power away.[13][14]

The "Shellfish Suppression Act" also takes its lead from the Biblical Old Testament book of Leviticus, but it cites Verse 11:12 "Whatesoever has fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination to you."[15] The act would make selling or consuming shellfish a felony with a fine of $666,000 per occurrence, "and/or imprisonment up to 6 years, 6 months, and 6 days."[15]

Aftermath[edit]

In spite of its anti-gay text, many legal observers viewed the initiative as an attempt to criticize the initiative process.[16] California has a long history of ballot initiatives that are challenging to implement, circulated by special interests, and/or are later found unconstitutional. The gay community itself had faced the Briggs Initiative, Proposition 22, and Proposition 8. The $200 filing fee had not been raised since the 1940s, and in the 1970s, the California Supreme Court adopted rules forcing the Attorney General to issue a summary to any initiative, even one he/she believed unenforceable, to avoid suppression of freedom of speech.[17] The initiative lead to Assembly Bill 1100, raising the filing fee from $200 to $2000,[18] and the legislature also consolidated initiatives on the November general election ballot.

McLaughlin reportedly has plans to reintroduce the initiative in a future election.[19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gambino, Lauren (23 March 2015). "California lawyer seeks to put 'shoot the gays' proposal on 2016 ballot". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  2. ^ Diaz, John (27 March 2015). ""Shoot the gays" measure shows flaw in state's initiative process". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  3. ^ Stern, Mark Joseph (23 June 2015). "Judge Nixes California's "Kill the Gays" Ballot Initiative". Slate. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  4. ^ Chabria, Anita (23 June 2015). "California 'Kill the Gays' ballot blocked". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b Sieczkowski, Cavan. "Lawyer In California Proposes Killing Gays With 'Sodomite Suppression Act'". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Williams, Ken. "OC lawyer wants to "kill the gays" in California, according to initiative goal". San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Harris Seeks to Stop 'Shoot the Gays' Initiative". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  8. ^ a b Branson-Potts, Hailey. "Judge strikes down proposed 'Sodomite Suppression Act' calling for killing of gays". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
  9. ^ Reza, H.G. "Bible's Lessons Inspired Initiative: The O.C. attorney behind a measure that would put Scripture in literature classes says studying it sharpened his thinking". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Berman, Russell. "Will Californians Vote On Executing Gays and Lesbians? Unless a court intervenes, the state will have to allow an attorney to collect signatures for a ballot measure that would authorize mass murder". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  11. ^ a b c Nagourney, Adam. "California Seeks to Head Off Initiative to Execute Gays". The New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  12. ^ "'Shoot the Gays' initiative countered by 'Intolerant Jackass Act'". Politics Blog. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  13. ^ Trudy Ring. "California Activist Has Perfect Response to 'Shoot the Gays' Initiative". Advocate.com. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  14. ^ "The Intolerant Jackass Act: A brilliant response to that Kill the Gays bill". Slate Magazine. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Californians counter proposed 'Biblical' anti-gay law with 'Shellfish Suppression Act'". Pink News. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  16. ^ Mikikelson, David. snopes.com http://www.snopes.com/politics/sexuality/sodomite.asp. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ Stern, Mark Joseph. "California's "Kill the Gays" initiative can't be stopped". Slate.com.
  18. ^ McGreevy, Patrick. "California Lawmakers Vote to Raise Initiative Fee from $200 to $200". Los Angeles Times.
  19. ^ McLaughlin, Matthew Gregory (10 June 2017). "LA court delays" ((Contains materials that may be unsettling for some. Discretion advised)). Retrieved 30 June 2017.

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