It doesn't matter that a California lawyer's outrageous Sodomite Suppression Act ballot initiative proposes executing gays with "bullets to the head," or that it's unconstitutional and could never become law. California Attorney General Kamala Harris is forced to allow the measure to circulate for signatures, legal experts said.
The initiative, which mandates 10 years in prison and permanent expulsion from California for anyone who advocates gay rights to minors, stands no chance of collecting 365,000 valid signatures it needs to appear on next year's ballot. But because its backer, Matt McLaughlin, paid the $200 filing fee by the February deadline, Harris is bound by law to prepare a title and summary of the initiative by May so that its sponsor can begin collecting signatures, legal experts told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Joe Mathews, a fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University, argued on California politics website Fox&Hounds that forcing the attorney general to allow the circulation of such an absurd proposal attacks the integrity of the initiative process. He said a "human rights exception" should be adopted for these instances.
"When you are taking away fundamental human rights -– as in the right to live -– it is appropriate to give our public officials a formal exception that they can invoke to block an initiative that violates fundamental human rights," Mathews wrote.
An innovative response to McLaughlin's initiative comes from activist Charlotte Laws, who told Slate she is filing the Intolerant Jackass Act on Monday. The bill reads:
"Any person, herein known as an 'Intolerant Jackass,' who brings forth a ballot measure that suggests the killing of gays and/or lesbians, whether this measure is called the Sodomite Suppression Act or is known by some other name, shall be required to attend sensitivity training for at least three (3) hours per month for twelve (12) consecutive months. In addition, the offender or "Intolerant Jackass" must donate $5000 to a pro-gay or pro-lesbian organization."
McLaughlin may face other repercussions for advocating murder. According to the Sacramento Bee, state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D) has askled the State Bar of California to investigate McLaughlin, and more than 3,800 people have signed a petition asking State Bar President Craig Holden to revoke McLaughlin's law license.
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