Quirks in California’s referendum system have allowed the promotion of a dangerously homophobic bill, as local politicians call for lawyer proponent to be struck off
Outraged calls are mounting for a California lawyer to be disbarred following his shocking bid to enact a law that would compel state authorities to execute homosexuals.
State Senator Ricardo Lara has called on bar authorities urgently to haul lawyer Matthew McLaughlin before officials to assess whether he has breached the “good moral character” clause required for California bar membership.
Lara and others are fighting against the lawyer’s bid to make it state law that practising homosexuals are executed by firing squad.
According to a report in the online version of San Francisco-based newspaper, The Bay Area Reporter, Lara — who is himself gay — has written recently to the state bar board president saying he is “deeply disturbed” that a California lawyer would “promote such pitiful, evil, and hateful statements in his proposed initiative”.
But then McLaughlin is from Orange County, an area abutting the southern border of Los Angeles and renowned as the home of Disneyland — and ultra-conservative political views. The airport is named after famous son John Wayne, but the county is perhaps best known as the home of former US President Richard Nixon.
Not much is known about Matthew Gregory McLaughlin, apart from the fact that he did a degree at George Mason University law school in Washington DC, was admitted to the state bar in 1998, and his registration number is 198329.
We also know that McLaughlin appears to have a potentially dangerous phobia about homosexuality. And that California’s own brand of popular democracy has enabled him to broadcast those prejudices around the globe.
California law allows any citizen to propose legislation through its “initiative” system. Fill in the forms, pay an admin fee of $200 (£135) and get your proposal — no matter how mad and vile — on the next ballot.
Well, that’s not exactly true — you also need to bag 350,000 signatures from fellow California registered voters. And that is where McLaughlin is likely to fall down.
However, as of 2012 there were 1.6 million voters in Orange County alone, so it is not beyond the realms of possibility and bonkersness that McLaughlin could see his imitative for the “Sodomite Suppression Act” — yes, that’s what it’s called — listed on the 2016 ballot.
For those who can bear to dig deeper into the mind of McLaughlin, Legal Cheek has posted the full text of his initiative. In summary, it refers to male homosexual acts as “buggery” and “sodomy”, describing them as “a monstrous evil” against “Almighty God”.
So far so Billy Graham. But then McLaughlin goes a couple of large leaps further. All homosexual “propaganda” would be banned under his draft legislation, with those convicted of disseminating it liable for a tiny fine of $1 million (£670,000).
And, crucially, in addition:
“… any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification [will] be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method”.
Note the words “any … person of the same gender” — just in case California lesbians thought they had escaped McLaughlin’s beady eye.
The draft bill goes on to impose a duty on all the state’s resident’s to enforce the legislation — stipulating that attorney fees will be fully reimbursed when lawyers are instructed to assist.
Good to see that McLaughlin is looking after his own.