California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris on Wednesday attempted to block a proposed ballot initiative that calls for the execution of those who engage in gay sex. Harris has asked for judicial authorization to quash the so-called "Sodomite Suppression Act," authored by a Southern California lawyer last month.
According to the proposed initiative, those involved in gay sex should be “be put to death by bullets to the head by any other convenient method.” It also called for those indulging in “sodomistic propaganda” to be fined $1 million per occurrence and/or up to 10 years in jail, and/or exile from California.
In a statement, Harris said she was seeking judicial authorization to not write the title and summary for the Act. “It is my sworn duty to uphold the California and United States Constitutions and to protect the rights of all Californians,” she said. “This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible and has no place in a civil society.”
The bill’s backer, Matt McLaughlin, the Orange County lawyer, has paid the $200 filing fee, which means Harris is legally required to prepare a title and summary. This would allow McLaughlin to begin campaigning to get the 365,880 signatures he would need for the proposal to appear on the November 2016 ballot.
California law professor Floyd Feeney, at the University of California, Davis, told the New York Times that it was unlikely a court would intervene in the issue, saying that the attorney general had no legal standing to seek the exemption. “Your duty is to do what the statute says to do.”
“From a purely legal point of view, there is zero point of doing this,” Feeney added. “What we are seeing here is more of the political side of this. She is being pressed by gay rights activists, she’s wanting to be supportive.”
California is one of the 21 states that allow citizens to petition for laws to be put to a ballot. California’s law does not allow state officials to interfere with the progression of initiatives they find objectionable. The state’s LGBT caucus had filed a complaint asking the California state bar to review McLaughlin’s membership for violating a “good moral character” clause, USA Today reported.