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Calif. AG may have no choice but to allow ‘shoot the gays’ proposal to go forward

Calif. AG may have no choice but to allow ‘shoot the gays’ proposal to go forward
Attorney General Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
Attorney General Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)

SAN FRANCISCO — A Southern California attorney’s proposal to put a “shoot the gays” initiative on the ballot is unlikely to ever become law — for one thing, it’s unconstitutional — but Attorney General Kamala Harris may have no choice but clear it for circulation.

Matthew G. McLaughlin, an Orange County, Calif., attorney filed the proposed measure last month, asking voters to criminalize homosexuality in the state and impose a death penalty sentence.

According to McLaughlin’s proposed “Sodomite Suppression Act,” “The abominable crime against nature known as buggery, called also sodomy, is a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha.”

“The People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”

Full text of the proposal is here.

The measure would also make it a crime, punishable by 10 years in prison and permanent expulsion from the state, to advocate gay rights to an audience that includes minors.

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McLaughlin’s measure is currently before Harris, whose options appear to be limited, according to the SF Gate.

Once the sponsor has paid the required fee, state law directs the attorney general to prepare a title and a maximum 100-word summary of the initiative and forward it to the secretary of state for a 90-day period of public signature-gathering.

The secretary of state’s website says Harris, a longtime supporter of LGBT rights and marriage equality, is scheduled to take those actions by May 4.

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Attorney General Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
Attorney General Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)

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The initiative would need to garner the required 365,000 signatures in order to make it on to the 2016 ballot. Then, voters would still have to pass it and courts would have to rule it constitutional.

The California Supreme Court has the power to keep measures off the ballot if they violate the state Constitution. Presumably the justices could locate a state constitutional provision that would discourage shooting people in the head, notes SF Gate.

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Since reports of McLaughlin’s proposal surfaced, a petition has asked the State Bar of California to nullify his license.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Los Angeles) has also called on the Bar to investigate McLaughlin, saying the measure isn’t just offensive, it’s in violation of the California bar’s code of conduct for attorneys.

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