From the “Now I’ve Heard It All Department”
When I first heard about the ‘Sodomite Suppression Act’ last week I couldn’t believe my ears and figured it was some sort of a joke and a not to funny one I might add. It was just so absurd, who in their right mind would propose an anti-gay ballot measure legalizing the execution of gays by “bullets to the head or any other convenient method” for what the measure’s author referred to as their “abominable crimes against nature?” Crazy right? I certainly thought so and didn’t give it another thought. But later that evening while watching the nightly news I learned that the ‘Sodomite Suppression Act’ is the real deal and I was totally blown away!
I can’t imagine going to my polling place and having to decide on a measure like the ‘Sodomite Suppression Act’. You’d think it would be a no brainer right? But after months of paid political messages, the SSA would pick up some support.There are plenty of homophobic, religious right wing, lunatics out there, but thank God not enough to get this crazy initiative passed. Remember less than half the registered voters in our state actually get out and vote. These are the people who decide future policy. Make sure you’re one of them. Get out there and rock the vote, every vote counts even yours.
Come on I’m as American as the next person and staunchly support the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitutional Bill of Rights. As written the 1st Amendment protects many of our basic human rights such as freedom of the press, religion, speech, the right to assemble and the right to petition. It seems pretty cut and dry doesn’t it? But interpreting the meaning of the first amendment isn’t easy. Courts across the country have long tried to define the limitations of these freedoms and still there is no ‘one size fits all’ definitive explanation of our rights. Interpretations have evolved throughout our countries history and continue to evolve today.
So how in the hell does such a ridiculous proposal like this one get serious attention as a possible ballot measure? Well here in California we have what is called the Citizens’ Initiative Ballot Process, a process that’s over a hundred years old. Anyone with $200 filing fee and a properly filled out application can file a ballot measure they’ve written, no matter how ludicrous it may be! The process is an example of direct democracy in which California voters take part in deciding some of the laws that govern us. Once filed, the paperwork is processed by the State Attorney Generals office and moves forward to the next step in the process which is the gathering of the 365,000 signatures necessary for the measure to be placed on the ballot. Can you believe that? It’s actually a very simple process and it is our right.
I’m sorry but in the case of the “Sodomite Suppression Act” the initiative system has failed. This violence filled proposal has no business on the ballot. It not only crosses the line of decency and reason, it’s unconstitutional! Although it is highly unlikely that this measure would ever make the ballot this anti-gay measure should never have made it this far in the first place. Truth be told it should have wound up at the bottom of someone’s wastebasket or in a shredder somewhere. We’re talking about a proposal for mass murder here people, a license to kill! It should be a non issue. Instead the proposal is on the verge of moving on to the signature gathering process. All of which should sends a loud and clear message across the state and beyond, that the California Initiative Process is broken and in dire need of immediate repair.
The ‘SSA’ isn’t the first crazy initiative that Californian’s have had to deal with and it won’t be the last unless something is done soon. Through the initiative process we have successfully affected our state budget and legislative power and giving us a voice on a variety of issues such as spending, tax cuts and increases, term limits, legalization of medical marijuana, embryonic stem cell research, redistricting and the death penalty to name a few. But clearly the machine needs an overhaul, the ‘SSA’ proves that.
I fully support the CA Initiative Process. It gives the people a powerful voice and serves to keep big government in check. However after a hundred years I believe the time has come to take a long look at the process and do some much needed retooling particularly in the early stages of a proposal’s submission. There needs to be a built in process of reviewing initiatives, perhaps a review committee that would study proposals so that inappropriate and potentially dangerous or illegal proposals can be weeded out or amended. Through study, deception, unintended consequences or hidden costs could be caught early on and corrected and the text of the proposal could then be revised. We need a system of review as part of the process. Someone needs to be able to make the necessary decisions on whether an Initiative is in the best interest of all Californians.
Until that time comes continue to do your part. If you’re not already registered to vote do so, read all ballot initiatives thoroughly before making a decision. Be an informed voter. Don’t be fooled like we were with the High Speed Rail Initiative which was deceptively written and filled with financial misinformation. Don’t let anything get by you. Lastly be a concerned citizen, play an active role in shaping our government and get out there and vote!Until we can get the majority of registered voters to the polls the wheels of change will continue to turn slowly. Make a difference.