While it’s exceedingly unlikely McLaughlin’s measure would qualify, the signature threshold for November 2016, at 365,880, is unusually low.
Fearing said unless he could come up with $1 million to pay signature collectors, and upward of $10 million to advertise, “we are all just going to have to hope he’s having his shameful 15 minutes of infamy.”
McLaughlin’s plan refers to “buggery” or “sodomy” as “a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.” Under the proposal, “… any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification (would) be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”
Anyone transmitting “sodomistic propaganda” to a minor would be fined $1 million per offense, and/or imprisoned up to 10 years, and/or expelled from California for up to life. It would ban lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, or those who espouse sodomistic propaganda, or who belong to any group that does, from serving in public office, holding government jobs and obtaining public benefits.
“This law is effective immediately and shall not be rendered ineffective nor invalidated by any court, state or federal, until heard by a quorum of the Supreme Court of California consisting only of judges who are neither sodomites nor subject to disqualification hereunder,” it states.
Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, wrote in a letter to the bar president that he’s deeply disturbed a bar member would promote such “pitiful, evil and hateful sentiments” and called on officials to review his conduct and determine whether he meets the standards for membership.
On Thursday, the Legislature’s LGBT Caucus, of which Lara is a member, released its letter to the State Bar requesting an investigation into McLaughlin’s “provocative and potentially unethical actions.”
“I support freedom of speech, but calling for state sanctioned execution of a protected class calls into question the proponent’s character and judgment,” Lara said.
Attempts to reach McLaughlin were unsuccessful, and the telephone number he provided to the state goes to a voice mail that is full.
The State Bar lists his status as active. The bar is aware of the public calls for disbarment, and the Office of Chief Trial Counsel takes them seriously, spokeswoman Laura Ernde said. However, she said the bar can’t comment further since the investigation process is confidential by law.
Though the petition asserts McLaughlin is “immoral” and “unfit to practice law,” ethicists said the bar would have a hard time finding he should be disciplined.
“It’s offensive to anybody with a rational mind, but I don’t know that it necessarily rises to the level of an ethics violation,” said Jonathan Arons, a legal ethics attorney in San Francisco.
David Cameron Carr of San Diego spent a dozen years at the State Bar disciplining lawyers and the last 14 defending them. He said while attorneys could be disciplined for acts of “moral turpitude,” that requirement relates to the ability to perform their work.
“This is not obviously the kind of act of moral turpitude that calls into question his fitness to practice law,” Carr said.
Lawyers are disciplined as part of a process that closely mirrors criminal prosecution or civil lawsuits. The chief trial counsel must go into State Bar Court, file a case, and then prove it out to an independent adjudicator. Carr anticipates that the State Bar will look at the conduct, but doesn’t see a prosecutable discipline case with McLaughlin.
“It’s incredibly vile, and it’s offensive and disgusting,” Carr said. “That said, we have the First Amendment that protects speech, and the scope is pretty broad.”