Today’s date is March 16, 2015. Please take specific note of the last four digits, 2-0-1-5, which signifies the year that we are currently living in. Not 1815, not 1915, not even 1950, 2015. I am certain of this because I was compelled to check my calendar several times today after reading an article that I came across.
Recently, Huntington Beach attorney Matthew Gregory McLaughlin drafted a barbaric ballot proposal that calls for the execution of all gays.1 (Yes, you are reading that correctly.) This proposal has caused a nationwide uproar and has many activists calling for his immediate disbarment.
Details of the “Sodomite Suppression Act”
McLaughlin’s initiative, titled the “Sodomite Suppression Act”, would mandate that any individual who freely touches another person of the same gender in a sexual nature would be “put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”2 But wait, there’s more. McLaughlin’s Act also calls for anyone who sells or supplies “sodomistic” material to pay a $1 million fine, face a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years and possibly be exiled from the state.
Can an Attorney be Disbarred for an Inflammatory Ballot Proposal?
While there is certainly no shortage of support for those calling for the disbarment of McLaughlin, some legal experts say that the chance he will face disciplinary action is unlikely. Ethics attorney Diane L. Karpman told the Daily Journal that disbarring an attorney for simply expressing an idea, regardless of how senseless and inhumane, is unlikely to happen.
“I think it seriously impacts his duties as a lawyer, but just because he is a lawyer does not mean he loses his right to free speech,” Karpman said.3
One California legislator, however, may have found a loophole in which McLaughlin could be punished for his outlandish proposal, despite the implications of the First Amendment. Senator Ricardo Lara has sent a letter to the president of the State Bar, Craig Holden, asking him to examine whether McLaughlin’s proposal violates the section in the Bar bylaws that requires all lawyers to carry themselves with “good moral character.”4
McLaughlin’s proposal to execute an entire group of people based on their sexuality does not exactly scream “good moral character.”
What Does Wallin & Klarich Think?
Allowing Matthew Gregory McLaughlin to continue practicing law would be a slap in the face to those attorneys who do in fact practice good moral character day in and day out. In order to be an attorney, it is imperative to think clear at all times and to hold no biases towards a particular groups of persons. McLaughlin’s proposal clearly demonstrates the polar opposite.
Minorities of all types have been persecuted throughout time. However, even Adolph Hitler avoided openly admitting that he was in favor of the extermination of all Jews. This attorney is asking that the voters of the State of California be allowed to vote on a proposal that would call for the execution of all gays. Should a person with this sort of “belief system” be allowed to practice law in our state? Wallin and Klarich believes the answer should be no.
At the time of this writing, an online petition calling for his disbarment on Change.org has already received roughly 2,700 signatures, and Wallin & Klarich will certainly be making it 2,701.
What Do You Think?
Will you be signing the petition to disbar McLaughlin? Should he be allowed to continue practicing law? Is this enough to show he is not displaying the “good moral character” required of an attorney in California? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
3. [Daily Journal, March 10, 2015 “State Bar looking into attorney’s anti-gay ballot measure”]↩