California attorney general seeks to halt anti-gay ballot initiative

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 25, 2015 5:15 PM

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - California Attorney General Kamala Harris said on Wednesday she is seeking judicial authority to refuse to allow the author of an "utterly reprehensible" anti-gay proposed ballot initiative to gather signatures to place it on the ballot.

The proposed initiative, called by its author the "Sodomite Suppression Act," calls gay sex an "abominable crime" for which participants should be killed. The proposal is so patently extreme that it could never become law, but it has nonetheless upset people in California, who have urged Harris to step in.

"This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society," Harris said in a statement on Wednesday.

Typically, when the author of a ballot proposition files a measure and pays a fee of $200, the next step is for the Attorney General to prepare a title and summary, which would then be used to show voters as backers gather signatures to try to place it on the ballot.

The author of the measure, listed in the application documents as Matt McLaughlin of Huntington Beach, could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

A lawyer named Matthew Gregory McLaughlin was listed by the California Bar Association as licensed to practice at the Huntington Beach address on the application for the ballot initiative.

A call to the phone number listed went to voice mail followed by a fax machine.

Calling his proposal the "Sodomite Suppression Act," he calls for a $1 million fine against anyone distributing "sodomistic propaganda," along with up to 10 years in prison and expulsion from the state.

"The People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that 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 or by any other convenient method," the author wrote.

A spokeswoman for Harris said the Attorney General would seek relief from the task of preparing the measure for the ballot from state Superior Court in Sacramento late on Wednesday afternoon. The state requires the backers of a proposed new law to gather about 366,000 signatures before it can be put on the ballot.

Harris said on Wednesday that if her request to reject the anti-gay initiative is denied by the courts, she will have to prepare a title and summary, in order to allow any backer to gather signatures.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein)