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.
“[H]is phone goes straight to voicemail and no one came to the door at the downtown Huntington Beach address where he is registered to vote,” the Times reported.
The text of “The Sodomite Suppression Act,” posted by the office of the state attorney general, provides some flavor of McLaughlin’s voice.
“The abominable crime against nature known as buggery, called also sodomy, is 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 Gomorrha,” it begins.
“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.
“Even if you don’t believe its teachings, you’ll agree that it includes rich usage of the English language,” he told the LA Times in a 2004 interview.
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.”
“We are shocked and outraged that a member of the State Bar would so callously call for the disenfranchisement, expulsion and murder of members of the LGBT community,” the caucus wrote.
“We believe that this measure not only fails constitutional muster, but that such inciting and hateful language has no place in our discourse, let alone state constitution,” it added.
TPM illustration by Christine Frapech. Silhouette via Shutterstock / Benoit Daoust.