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Cal. Lawyer Authors Initiative: Kill Gays and Lesbians

We've profiled lawyers behaving badly before, but Matthew McLaughlin ushered in a whole new category earlier this month when he filed a proposal for a voter initiative called the "Sodomite Suppression Act."

The proposed ballot proposition would make it a crime to be gay or lesbian in California, prohibit gays or lesbians from holding public office, and would authorize civilians to "put [gays and lesbians] to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method."

This is horrific on so many levels, we almost don't know where to start. Almost.

Let's Start with: Not a Chance

Naturally, the initiative doesn't have a chance of passing a voter referendum, and even if it did, all of its seven subsections would be quickly found unconstitutional. In fact, the proposed initiative is so outrageous and obviously illegal, Attorney General Kamala Harris is suing to block it so as not to waste anyone's time litigating it in court.

McLaughlin, the author of the initiative, is a licensed attorney who graduated from George Mason University School of Law and was admitted to the state bar in 1998, according to his state bar profile. Little else is known about McLaughlin. The San Francisco Chronicle discovered only that he authored an initiative in 2004 that would have made the King James Bible a literature textbook in California public schools. So at least he's consistent. (Multiple news outlets tried to contact McLaughlin, but he's not talking calls. Consequently, we don't know if he's serious, or seriously trolling.)

Then again, is McLaughlin alone among the annals of lawyer crazy-persons? California is also home to lawyer (and dentist!) Orly Taitz, who has made it her life's goal, in spite of multiple thousands of dollars of sanctions for filing vexatious and frivolous litigation, to expose President Obama as the secret-Kenyan-Muslim she knows that he really is.

Our bar exam is too hard? Maybe it's not hard enough.

Eh, It's Still Protected Speech

One state legislator from Los Angeles County was so outraged by the initiative that he filed a complaint with the state bar. "Calling for state-sanctioned execution of a protected class calls into question the proponent's character and judgment," State Sen. Richard Lara told the Chronicle.

Even opponents of the initiative -- which should be synonymous with "everyone" -- don't think sanctions are in order, or a revamping of California's voter initiative process. Even though that process brought you Proposition 8 in 2008, "Three Strikes" in 1994, and Proposition 13 in 1978 (which has deprived the state of a good deal of property tax revenue to support our schools ever since), California is wedded to its system of popular sovereignty. Other solutions, like raising the filing fee from $200 to $10,000, would ensure only that the very wealthy can engage in the direct democracy Californians value so much.

For its part, George Mason University was asked what it thought and issued a statement saying it wasn't the university's job to repudiate the initiative or McLaughlin. "Mr. McLaughlin must answer for himself, and not we answer for him, concerning what he says or does," the dean said in a statement, adding that McLaughlin nevertheless has a constitutional right to express himself even if his opinions "undeniably are out of keeping with the normal civilities of life." So that's a pretty good couched repudiation. And for now, we end there.

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