California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed a bill that prevents the state from banning the practice of male circumcision, Reuters reports.
An organization — dubbed the Male Genital Mutilation Bill — led an effort to make the practice of circumcising minors a misdemeanor crime. The group hoped to put the measure to a vote on a November ballot, and garnered thousands of signatures in support of the initiative.
Back in June, the Anti-Defamation League, and a number of Jewish and Muslim individuals filed suit to block the measure, arguing that the state doesn’t have power to enforce the ban. The practice of circumcision, of course, has long been a religious rite and critics of the measure argue a ban would violate the First Amendment. And in July a judge struck down the measure, saying it infringes on religious freedom, Reuters reports.
The bill, sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto, ensures that a circumcision ban will not be enacted at the local level. Instead, it would have to be handled at the state level.
Matthew Hess, president of the Male Genital Mutilation Bill, told TPM via email that “California has taken a big step backward by enacting this statute.”
“Circumcision is elective surgery that an adult should be allowed to choose only for himself,” Hess added. “It shouldn’t be forced onto anyone, male or female. If California won’t allow its cities to regulate this painful and sexually damaging practice, then it needs to do the right thing here by enacting a statewide law prohibiting forced circumcision of boys.”
Brown’s office said the governor’s signature “speaks for itself,” but wouldn’t add additional comment.
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David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com