A California Lawyer Wants to Put Gays to Death. Why Isn’t the Attorney General Ignoring Him?


It’s been exactly one month since the office of Kamala Harris, the California attorney general, received the $200 filing fee and proposed text for a citizen initiative—the so-called Sodomite Suppression Act—that says “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.” The measure probably would have died a natural—and quieter—death had Harris, who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2016, not inserted herself in the controversy.

On Wednesday, she issued a statement decrying the proposal, and vowed to seek a court order to avoid her legal obligation to issue a “title and summary” for it—which essentially forces the executive branch to take the proposal seriously, to request an estimate of its fiscal impact, and to issue a general statement about its viability. That’s a lot of machinery for such an outlandish move, and now that the national press is all over Harris’s opposition, the story won’t go away. And she will likely lose in court.

The Sodomite Suppression Act seeks to amend the penal code to criminalize homosexuality with the death penalty, which indicates that its author, mysterious attorney Matthew McLaughlin, didn’t do his research: A federal judge ruled California’s death penalty unconstitutional in 2014. The initiative also proposes sanctions on the distribution of “sodomistic propaganda” and prohibitions on LGBT folks to hold public office. It is clearly illegal, flying in the face of every major Supreme Court decision favoring gays and lesbians—including Romer v. Evans, which struck a Colorado amendment that stripped protections from LGBT persons,and Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated sodomy laws across the United States. Under these precedents alone, this thing doesn’t stand a chance.

Read full report via New Republic.

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