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The bill was proposed on 24th February by Matt McLaughlin, an American lawyer. Chillingly named the ‘Sodomite Suppression Act’, it proposes to make legal the murder of homosexuals in the State of California.
It is a wonder how such an atrocity could become a proposed bill.
In California, to be able to propose a new legislation, you only need to pay the $200 required by the Supreme Court, meaning any citizen can introduce one. This is what Mr McLaughlin has done and no one, not even the California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, can oppose it. Indeed, Harris has to prepare a summary of the initiative, as required by law.
In the bill, McLaughlin uses fundamentalist religious arguments to support his legislation, arguing that homosexuality is a ‘crime against nature’ and ‘a monstrous evil’, comparing California to the biblical towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. Furthermore, he states that if Californians continue to allow homosexuality then they would face ‘God’s just wrath’, therefore arguing that all homosexuals should be killed ‘by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method’.
Such a bill, with its ignominious plea based on religious arguments, is nothing but a bigotry-fuelled monstrosity. McLaughlin is calling for murder, something religions should never be used to justify.
Luckily, the bill needs to reach 365,000 signatures in order to be examined by the California Parliament and there is very little chance it will garner that many signatures.
Firstly, we can hope that because of its outrageously intolerant and violent nature, it is highly unlikely people will sign in favour of this legislation. Secondly, let’s not forget, California has always been one of the most accepting states in regards to homosexual rights. The state legalised gay marriage in 2008 – which became enforceable in 2013.
California is also one of the most emblematic states for homosexual rights and counts in its ranks a lot of renowned gay-rights activists.
A prime example would be Harvey Milk, city supervisor of San Francisco and first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, who was assassinated in 1978.
We could also name Chad Griffin, an LGBTQ political activist, who led a number of political campaigns advocating for or against multiple California ballot initiatives.
There is also Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San-Francisco from 2004 to 2011, who came into the spotlight in 2004 when he issued marriage licenses for same-sex couples, which was a violation of the California law at the time. He also opposed Proposition 8, in 2008, which was aimed at eliminating same-sex marriage.
Many people soon responded to McLaughlin’s initiative in the most brilliant ways.
Joe Matthews said that an exception should be made for instances such as this where basic human rights are being so clearly violated by a proposed legislation:
“When you are taking away fundamental human rights -– as in the right to live -– it is appropriate to give our public officials a formal exception that they can invoke to block an initiative that violates fundamental human rights,”
But it is perhaps activist Charlotte Laws, that had the most innovative response to it. She told Slate she will file the “Intolerant Jackass Act” on Monday:
“Any person, herein known as an ‘Intolerant Jackass,’ who brings forth a ballot measure that suggests the killing of gays and/or lesbians, whether this measure is called the Sodomite Suppression Act or is known by some other name, shall be required to attend sensitivity training for at least three (3) hours per month for twelve (12) consecutive months. In addition, the offender or “Intolerant Jackass” must donate $5000 to a pro-gay or pro-lesbian organization.”
As long as there will be people continuously fighting for rights and trying to make the world a better place, all the McLaughlins in the universe will be nothing more than a tiny annoying buzz in our ear. And that’s the way it should be.
By Lucie P. Norris
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham