California judge kills horrifying "kill the gays" initiative

Attorney general Kamala Harris doesn't have to worry about sending the Sodomite Suppression Act out for signatures

By Jenny Kutner
Published June 24, 2015 1:59PM (EDT)
                                                                                             (AP Photo/Mathew Sumner)
(AP Photo/Mathew Sumner)

In case you were worried that a truly horrifying, completely insane, definitely unconstitutional California measure to "kill the gays" would ever be enforced, fear not. On Tuesday, a California judge granted state attorney general Kamala Harris reprieve from sending the so-called Sodomite Suppression Act out for signatures, effectively shooting down the proposal and -- you guessed it! -- calling it "patently unconstitutional."

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei approved Harris' request not to process the proposal, which was sponsored by Orange County attorney Matthew McLaughlin. The initiative sought to amend the California penal code to make any sexual acts between people of the same gender punishable by "bullets to the head or by any other convenient method," as well as to prohibit the distribution of gay "propaganda," punishable by a $1 million fine or banishment from the state.

McLaughlin's idea was, in short, utter lunacy, but Harris still required permission to ignore it. The Associated Press reports:

Cadei said it would be "inappropriate, waste public resources, generate unnecessary divisions among the public, and tend to mislead the electorate" for...Harris to process the proposal.

Harris had asked for a judge's permission in March to reject the initiative through a legal complaint against its sponsor, Orange County lawyer Matthew McLaughlin. After McLaughlin did not attempt to defend the measure in court, the attorney general last week sought a default ruling in her favor, a request Cadei granted.

"This proposed act is the product of bigotry, seeks to promote violence, is patently unconstitutional and has no place in a civil society. I applaud the court's decision to block its title and summary," Harris said in a statement Tuesday.

McLaughlin did not immediately reply to a telephone call seeking comment on Tuesday. He has not commented publicly on his motivations for pursuing the initiative since he paid $200 to submit it for processing.

While it's probably better Cadei stopped the initiative early, it's unlikely the measure would have gotten much further: Even if Harris had been required to process McLaughlin's proposal and send it out for signatures, it still would have required 366,000 signatures to make it onto the November 2016 ballot.

Jenny Kutner

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