Lawmakers Oppose Circumcision Ban

(Editor’s note: This blog has been corrected.)

Katy Grimes: Today [July 21, 2011] at 3:30 in San Francisco, three state legislators are trying to stop the city of San Francisco from infringing on people’s religious rights.

First introduced as a global warming bill in February, AB 768  has been gutted and amended to take on new life as a bill stopping cities from banning the age-old practice of circumcision.

Authored by Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Los Angeles, the bill reads, “This bill would preclude a local statute, ordinance, or
regulation, or administrative action implementing a local statute,
ordinance, or regulation from prohibiting or restricting the practice
of male circumcision, or the exercise of parental authority with
respect to male circumcision.”

The bill is designed to counteract a ballot initiative relating to the same topic that qualified in May. The measure would make circumcision illegal for boys younger than 18. Violators could face a year in jail or a fine of $1,000, or both. [Update August 3, 2011: The initiative was rejected by a San Francisco Superior Court judge on July 28, 2011.]

Circumcision is a surgical process  removing the male foreskin and has biblical roots. Many believe that it is commanded by God explicitly in a covenant with Abraham. Jewish families traditionally circumcise their infant children, so the many different attempts to ban circumcision are really an attack on a religious practice.

In this case, Gatto’s bill is a smart attempt to stop a really bizarre measure that would restrict San Franciscans’ religious freedoms. Unfortunately, he is the author of a bad bill which would remove voting freedoms. ACA 6 is a constitutional amendment which would end the ballot initiative process as we know it.

The bill’s language states that it “prohibit an initiative measure that would result in a net increase in state or local government costs exceeding $5,000,000, other than costs attributable to the issuance, sale, or repayment of bonds, from being submitted to the electors or having any effect unless and until the legislative analyst and the director of finance jointly determine that the initiative measure provides for additional revenues in an amount that meets or exceeds the net increase in costs.”

CalWatchdog editor Steven Greenhut wrote, “Despite Gatto’s assurances to the contrary, it’s clear the bill could be applied to initiatives that would reduce taxes, given that such measures, such as Prop. 13, would result in a “net increase” in costs to state and local governments.”

ACA 6 recently failed to pass with the two-thirds vote necessary in the Assembly, and was re-referred back to a Senate committee. But it is not going away.

I wish all legislators would take the approach they are taking on the circumcision issue and just let people live their own lives without state meddling. I wish they would pay attention to more serious matters.

With the newly signed state budget already out of balance, the highest unemployment in the country, falling home values, deplorable roads, businesses leaving the state in droves, and a growing welfare population, California lawmakers should be focused like a laser beam on nothing but improving the state’s economy and getting a balanced budget.

JULY 21, 2011

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