SAN FRANCISCO – A judge has relieved California's attorney general of the duty to process a proposed ballot initiative that advocated killing anyone who engages in gay sex.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei ruled late Monday that the so-called Sodomite Suppression Act was patently unconstitutional. Cadei said it would be "inappropriate, waste public resources, generate unnecessary divisions among the public, and tend to mislead the electorate" for Attorney General Kamala Harris to clear the measure for signature-gathering.
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.
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.
The initiative sought to amend the California penal code to make sex with a person of the same gender an offense punishable by "bullets to the head or by any other convenient method." It also would have made the distribution of gay "propaganda" punishable by a $1 million fine or banishment from the state.
Harris has said that if a judge did not block the measure, she would have had no choice but to give McLaughlin the go-ahead to seek the nearly 366,000 votes needed to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot.