Petitioning Craig Holden
Disbar lawyer who wants to legalize the murder of LGBT people
Petition by Carol Dahmen
West Sacramento, California
By ADAM NAGOURNEY
NY Times, MARCH 25, 2015
Ms. Harris said she would ask the state Superior Court in Sacramento to relieve her of having to write the title and summary for the Sodomite Suppression Act.
That action would clear the way for the author, Matthew G. McLaughlin, a lawyer in Huntington Beach, to begin gathering signatures to get it on the ballot.
The highly unusual announcement by Ms. Harris — by all appearances, California law gives no discretion to the attorney general in handling these kind of initiatives — comes as gay groups and others have called on her to block the measure. Ms. Harris, who was just elected to a second term, announced earlier this year that she would run for the Senate in 2016.
In her statement, Ms. Harris signaled her absence of legal options as she threw the ball to the courts. “If the court does not grant this relief,” she said, “my office will be forced to issue a title and summary for a proposal that seeks to legalize discrimination and vigilantism.”
Even if she is forced to proceed, Mr. McLaughlin — who did not return a telephone call seeking comment Wednesday — has a tough road ahead. He would have to gather the signatures of 365,880 registered voters in a maximum of 180 days, and it seems highly unlikely that if he succeeded at that, voters in the state would approve a measure like this.
Floyd F. Feeney, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis, said that it was highly unlikely that a court would intervene.
“This is a ministerial duty as opposed to discretionary,” he said of the attorney general’s role in these kind of matters. “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,” Professor Feeney said. “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.”
The decision by Ms. Harris drew quick praise from groups that had condemned the initiative.
“The constitutionality of this measure is not debatable,” said Senator Ricardo Lara, a Democrat and a leader of the Legislature’s gay and lesbian caucus. “It’s outlandish, unjust and out of line with California values.”
A version of this article appears in print on March 26, 2015, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: California Tries to Head Off a Ballot Initiative to Execute Gays.
By BRENDAN JAMES
Despite the implications of a proposed ballot measure in California mandating the execution of all homosexuals, little is known about the Orange County lawyer behind it.
"The Sodomite Suppression Act" was submitted to the state by attorney Matthew Gregory McLaughlin on Feb. 26 and proposes to legalize the extermination of gay people via “bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”
What we do know: McLaughlin is an attorney in Huntington Beach, California. The website of the California State Bar says his law license is active. It also says he went to the University of California Irvine for his undergraduate degree and George Mason University for law school.
He's been practicing law since 1998 and has circulated another state initiative back in 2004, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
This week, TPM contacted two watchdog groups that track anti-gay extremists: the Southern Poverty Law and Human Rights Campaign. Neither had information on McLaughlin or his history.
When TPM called McLaughlin's phone number provided by the state bar, the line went directly to a voicemail. A message left for McLaughlin at the number on Wednesday was not immediately returned.
Other than that, it's been difficult to dig up much more on the author of "The Sodomite Suppression Act," which among other things, mandates state and vigilante killing of any known homosexuals and (perhaps superfluously) barring them from holding public office or receiving public benefits.
When the Los Angeles Times attempted to reach him this week, it found that his address listed by the State Bar is a postal box at a Beach Boulevard strip mall.
The text of "The Sodomite Suppression Act," posted by the office of the state attorney general, provides some flavor of McLaughlin's voice.
"Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God's just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating-wickedness in our midst, the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method," the proposal continues.
The other initiative McLaughlin has attempted, which failed, was a proposal to make the Bible a required text in public schools.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Kamala Harris declared that she would seek authority from the state Supreme Court to quash the measure, calling it "patently unconstitutional" and "utterly reprehensible."
Any Californian can submit an initiative for the state ballot for a $200 fee, at which point the attorney general has 30 days to review it and allow circulation to collect signatures.
Assuming Harris goes through with it, as legal experts told the San Francisco Chronicle they expect, McLaughlin would need about 365,880 signatures to put his screed on the 2016 ballot. Aside from being unlikely, the experts told the newspaper, it would almost certainly be challenged by the state Supreme Court.
On March 10, the California Legislature's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus filed a complaint with the state bar to investigate McLaughlin, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News.
The LGBT Caucus argue that McLaughlin has run afoul of the bar's requirement that members demonstrate "good moral character."
TPM illustration by Christine Frapech. Silhouette via Shutterstock / Benoit Daoust.