California has seen discriminatory voter-approved initiatives before, but the latest proposal has lawmakers scrambling to figure out how to prevent it from reaching the ballot.
If McLaughlin can gather 504,760 California voter signatures his proposal ends up on the ballot. Legal experts say state Attorney General Kamala Harris has few options but to let the process continue and challenge the proposal in court if it passes.
The attorney general’s office confirmed they’ve received the initiative but would not comment beyond saying that they are reviewing the “Sodomite Suppression” initiative.
“How can someone advocate for violence against fellow Californians?” asked Sen. Richard Lara, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County) in a telephone interview with Fusion on Friday.
“As an openly gay man it’s my responsibility to fight, I can’t believe we’re here,” said Lara, who represents a primarily Latino district.
Lara is calling for McLaughlin’s disbarment from the California bar. But other than discrediting McLaughlin, it’s unclear what effect disbarment would have on the Orange County lawyer and the “shoot the gays” initiative.
The California Supreme Court can keep measures off the ballot if the proposition violates the California Constitution.
Last year the California Supreme Court ordered the State Attorney to hold off on placing a proposal on the ballot that asked if Californians if Congress should overturn the landmark U.S. Supreme Court campaign finance decision. The initiative was blocked on a technicality; it would have no binding legal effect, according to the L.A. Times.
The anti-immigrant proposition 187 that California voters approved in 1994 was later found unconstitutional by a federal court. The proposition would have barred undocumented immigrants from public schools and other social services in California.
Proposition 8, introduced in 2008, barred same-sex marriage. It’s still in the courts.
Lara said he’s more concerned about the anti-gay message this initiative sends to LGBT youth, especially for young gay Latino teens.
LGBT youth face an increased risk for suicidal thoughts and suicide, compared to heterosexual youth. Latino and American Native and Pacific Islander LGBT youth have a higher prevalence of suicide attempts, according to a Williams Institute study.