SACRAMENTO, California — Saying he is appalled that a State Bar of California member is leading an effort to pass a ballot initiative calling for "sodomites" to be “put to death by bullets to the head,” a state Senator in California is joining a growing movement seeking the lawyer's disbarment.
Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) sent a letter on Wednesday to the State Bar asking whether the proponent, Matthew McLaughlin, is violating the “good moral character” clause required for membership in the professional organization.
“Qualification to become a licensed attorney includes not only educational requirements and an examination, but also requires demonstrated ‘good moral character.’ This includes that those seeking admission to the Bar demonstrate ‘respect for and obedience to the law, and respect for the rights of others and the judicial process.’
"I support freedom of speech but calling for state sanctioned execution of a protected class calls into question the proponent’s character and judgment. I call on the State Bar to review whether Mr. McLaughlin’s actions violate his membership to the State Bar,” Lara said.
Earlier on Wednesday, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News reported that a Change.org petition was calling for McLaughlin to be disbarred. And on Tuesday, SDGLN reported that Equality California became the first Gay Inc. organization to condemn the ballot initiative plan.
McLaughlin's initiative also says "No person shall serve in any public office, nor serve in public employment, nor enjoy any public benefit, who is a sodomite or who espouses sodomistic propaganda or who belongs to any group that does." That would directly affect Sen. Lara, who is openly gay, as well as Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and other members of the LGBT Caucus who were copied on his letter.
A copy of the official letter is found below:
Sen. Lara was elected in 2012 to represent the 33rd Senate District, which includes the cities and communities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Long Beach, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, South Gate, South Los Angeles, Vernon and Walnut Park.
McLaughlin, who remains secretive about his proposed "Sodomy Suppression Act" and whether he is acting on his own behalf or representing others, hides behind a Mail Boxes Express address at a shopping center in the Orange County city of Huntington Beach, California. To date, no media organization has been able to find him and interview him.
San Diego Gay & Lesbian News reported on Monday about McLaughlin and his initiative, generating global attention. SDGLN informed readers that McLaughlin was listing in good standing with the State Bar of California.
He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California Irvine and his law degree from George Mason University School of Law in Virginia. He was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1998, according to martindale.com
The State Bar of California shows that McLaughlin is on active status with the bar. It also noted that he was listed as “inactive” in 2012. The bar did not list any disciplinary or administrative actions taken against him.
Read his full initiative proposal below.
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To submit a comment about the "Sodomite Suppression Act," click HERE. Comments will be accepted through March 28, 2015.
Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.