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California Sues to Block ‘Sodomite’ Ballot Bid

SACRAMENTO (CN) - Last month, Orange County attorney Matt McLaughlin submitted paperwork - and paid his $200 filing fee - to get his "Sodomite Suppression Act" before voters in 2016, assuming he can get the more than 365,000 signatures needed to qualify it for the ballot.

A recap for anyone living under a rock for the last week since the story exploded worldwide:

McLaughlin believes Californians tolerate entirely too much same-sex sodomy in their state. So he drafted a ballot initiative aimed at ending the gay scourge once and for all: execution by "bullets to the head or by any other convenient method," according to his proposed Sodomite Suppression Act.

California - as even those who live here will attest - is a wacky state. Sodomites and people with McLaughlin's ideals live on the same street, breathe the same smoggy air, surf the same waves, twirl side-by-side on the teacups at Disneyland.

The Golden State also has a wacky ballot initiative process that allows anybody who can afford the $200 filing fee - a figure that hasn't changed since the 1940s - and has an idea to get petitions circulating at every supermarket in the state, collect enough signatures to represent 5 percent of California voters, and get the idea on the ballot.

No matter how hare-brained, ludicrous or hateful the proposal, California's attorney general has the dubious honor of preparing the petitions for circulation. Actually, duty - he or she is required by the California Constitution to do so.

But on Wednesday, Attorney General Kamala Harris balked. She slapped McLaughlin with an 8-page lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court that calls his Sodomite Suppression Act "patently unconstitutional on its face."

She adds: "As but one example, the measure would purport to make it a capital offense to engage in conduct that the United States Supreme Court has made clear the government may not criminalize at all."

Harris referred to the 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized sodomy laws in Texas and the 13 other states that still bothered to care what went on in consenting adults' bedrooms. It was a 6-3 decision - not even close, by modern SCOTUS standards.

In her complaint, Harris acknowledges her constitutional duty to prepare McLaughlin's odious petition for circulation, and says that asking a judge to relieve her of that duty is "appropriately uncommon."

But she also makes the case for why she believes such relief is appropriate.

"Courts have relieved officials of their duties to prepare a title and summary or submit a measure to voters where a proposal is unconstitutional on its face; where an initiative's unconstitutionality is clear; and where submission of a legally invalid measure to voters would serve no legitimate purpose, but would be a useless waste of resources and create emotional community divisions," Harris says in the complaint.

She cites Widders v. Furchtenicht, Jahr v. Casebeer and Citizens for Responsible Behavior v. Superior Court.

In a statement, Harris - who is running for retiring Barbara Boxer's U.S. Senate seat - said it is her duty "to protect the rights of all Californians." This would presumably include those who enjoy, as McLaughlin's proposed initiative put it, the "monstrous evil" of sodomy.

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

She added: "If the court does not grant this relief, my office will be forced to issue a title and summary for a proposal that seeks to legalize discrimination and vigilantism," referring to McLaughlin's call to deputize ordinary citizens in the event that law enforcement or the courts refuse to round up the gay people and shoot them.

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