The wrestling match now unfolding in California over a proposed ballot measure aimed at exterminating gay people is actually a teachable moment, and not only about religious extremism and violent hate. It calls attention to the value of a simple screen test for the subjects of initiatives and constitutional amendments. In this area, California might take a lesson from New Mexico.
The Mormon Church wants laws on the books that would allow a Mormon apartment building owner who doesn't want to rent a unit to a gay couple, the "religious freedom" not to do so. Or a Mormon business owner the right to fire a lesbian worker simply because of whom she is, not because of the quality of her work.
In 1960 the Supreme Court could have kept Caryl Chessman from being executed in San Quentin's death chamber. He was executed more than 11 years after his conviction, following countless state and federal post-conviction proceedings and appeals. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court did not seize that opportunity.