California’s ‘Kill the Gays’ initiative


CA FlagThe thing you need to realize is that California has the easiest citizens initiative process, which is why almost every bad idea in American politics got its start in California — and quickly migrated to Arizona.

I am hesitant to post about this because it will give Cathi Herrod and her Christian Taliban ideas; but then again, I am sure that she and her ilk already know all about this.

The New York Times reports Gays Targeted in a California Initiative:

Even in a state known for its far-reaching and sometimes outlandish voter initiatives, the one proposed by a Huntington Beach lawyer seems stunning: the “Sodomite Suppression Act,” mandating, among other things, that any person who has sexual relations with someone of the same gender be “put to death by bullets to the head.”

It appears highly unlikely that the lawyer, Matthew G. McLaughlin, can collect the 365,880 signatures of registered voters — 5 percent of the total who voted for governor in the last election — needed to put the initiative on the ballot. Even if he does, it seems even more unlikely that it would ever pass in this state. And even if it did, opponents said, it would almost certainly be thrown out by a judge.

But this episode has thrown a new and unwanted light on California’s historically permissive voter initiative system, created in the early 1900s at the height of the Progressive Era and today the system under which much of California law is enacted. It is voters, and not the Legislature, who have put into place major laws dealing with everything from property taxes [Prop. 13] to crime to Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that banned same-sex marriage. That law was later overturned in the courts.

The initiative by Mr. McLaughlin, who did not respond to a request for comment, is now before the state attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, who under state law has to write a title and description of it before Mr. McLaughlin can began gathering signatures. California state law is very direct, and analysts said Ms. Harris appeared to have little choice but to process the initiative.

But Ms. Harris is running for Senate and thus under the spotlight; Mr. Mathews and some other opponents of the measure said they hoped that she would use this opportunity to block it and force Mr. McLaughlin to court — and thus perhaps invite a court to put some restrictions on what is appropriate to appear in the ballot box.

“It presents an interesting dilemma for the attorney general,” said Carol Dahmen, a Democratic consultant in Sacramento. “She may be and probably is required to provide a title and summary. But is she? She could make a real statement here and say, ‘We are not going to provide title and summary,’ and let him sue her. She has a building full of lawyers.”

A decision by Ms. Harris is expected shortly, aides said. “We are still reviewing our legal options,” said David Beltran, a spokesman for the attorney general.

In a sign of frustration with the system, opponents are turning their fire on Mr. McLaughlin; Ms. Dahmen said she had collected 25,000 signatures on a petition that she will submit to the state bar asking that Mr. McLaughlin be disbarred. The gay and lesbian caucus of the Legislature has made a similar call.

And then there is this rather creative response to this asshole attorney. The Intolerant Jackass Act: A brilliant response to that “Kill the Gays” Measure:

Frustrated by the attorney general’s inability to combat McLaughlin’s proposal, Charlotte Laws has decided to fight back with some free speech of her own. On Monday morning, Laws plans to file the Intolerant Jackass Act, accompanied by the requisite $200, with the California attorney general. Laws’ proposal cleverly mirrors and skewers the Sodomite Suppression Act, explaining that the “abominable crime known as prejudice against sexual orientation” is “a destructive view that society commands us to suppress.” Thus:

c) 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.

I spoke to Laws about her initiative—which, she readily acknowledges, is not necessarily designed to become law.

“I’m fighting fire with fire,” she told me. “The only way to counter [the Sodomite Suppression Act] is … to let people know that most people in California don’t agree with something as incendiary and hateful as what this one attorney proposed.” Laws recognizes the merit of having a content-neutral initiative system, but she believes “we have a very open-minded state and country. This is one guy, and there are millions of us who do not agree with this.”

* * *

(Though delightful, the Intolerant Jackass Act would run headlong into the First Amendment.) Still, it’s nice to see a response to McLaughlin’s measure that mocks its gonzo sadism without giving it the courtesy of a serious response. The Sodomite Suppression Act is a ridiculous proposal. With the Intolerant Jackass Act, Laws is only giving it the ridicule it deserves.

Mr. McLaughlin’s Sodomite Suppression Act will never become law — unless the theocratic Dominionists manage take over the country.


  1. We would gladly sign this petition. Marriage should only be between a man and a woman. That the majority of voters passed Yes on Prop 8!

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