A California judge has thrown out a proposed ballot initiative that advocated killing anyone who engaged in gay sex, calling the measure "patently unconstitutional."
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei relieved California's attorney general late Monday of the duty to clear the so-called Sodomite Suppression Act for signature-gathering. 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 process the proposal.
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 Tuesday.
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.
The attorney general has not attempted to stop another citizen's initiative that has worried LGBT groups in California. Her office on Tuesday issued an official title and summary for a proposed law that would require transgender people to use the public building restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their birth sex instead of the gender with which they identify.
Transgender people with a revised birth certificate, a court order recognizing a gender change or medical evidence of transitioning would be exempt from the law, which also seeks to authorize private businesses to enact similar restrictions on bathroom use.
California's legislative analyst says the initiative violates state laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity and gender expression. If it qualifies for the ballot and is approved by voters, the measure also could put the state at risk of losing federal funds if the U.S. government determines that it conflicts with laws and regulations covering sex discrimination.