Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

CA takes final cut on local anti-circumcision bans


Governor Jerry Brown (Photo: Lydia Gonzales)
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Local LGBT community leaders and elected officials applauded Governor Jerry Brown's signing of AB 768, a law that bans cities from regulating medical procedures, in particular male circumcision, handing over full oversight to the state.

The law immediately went into effect after the governor's signature October 2.

The legislation, authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Burbank), was introduced in July a week before San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi yanked a measure from the November ballot in San Francisco that sought to ban male circumcision in the city.

Gatto was inspired by the San Francisco controversy.

The San Francisco proposition allowed for a well-defined medical exclusion, but not a religious exception.

The lack of religious exception sparked unrest in Jewish and Muslim communities. A firestorm ensued after the publication of an anti-Semitic comic book, Foreskin Man, created by Matthew Hess, the original author of the Male Genital Mutilation bill.

Gatto thanked Brown for standing up for medical, personal, and religious freedoms.

Local politicians agreed.

Openly gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who supported the bill and is Jewish, said that Brown's signature ended "any confusion or ambiguity" about state control over medical procedures conducted by licensed health care professionals, preempting local governments.

District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, an openly gay Jewish politician, added that the governor's signature placed "California firmly on record as supporting religious minorities and supporting the right of the doctors to perform medical procedures without interference by government."

Openly gay San Francisco mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty took the issue on a more personal note.

"As a Jew, I believe that our religious traditions should be removed from the balloting process," said Dufty.

Lloyd Schofield, sponsor of the MSM bill, called the moves made on the ballot initiative "extremely undemocratic" and the new state law "dangerous."

He wasn't surprised by the end result. It was clear, he said, that there was no room for debate in Sacramento as the bill "slipped right through the Assembly and the Senate" within a few days.

Supporters to end male circumcision aren't giving up. An estimated 30 activists manned the Bay Area Intactivist and the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project booths at last weekend's Castro Street Fair and other activists were present at the Baby Fair at Fort Mason last weekend, according to Schofield.

"The heavy hand that came down on us is an awakening to many people to speak up on the issue," said Schofield.

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