San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi ruled correctly last week to cut a measure banning male circumcision from the November ballot. The ruling was based on state law that forbids cities and counties from making up their own rules on widely practiced medical procedures.
That law was passed after West Hollywood banned veterinarians from declawing cats, which, whether you agree with it or not, is a standard veterinary procedure. Likewise, circumcision, whether you agree with it or not, is the most commonly performed surgery in the United States, with an estimated 1.5 million performed each year.
The proposed circumcision ban also failed on the grounds of religious discrimination, running afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment since circumcision is a rite in Judaism and Islam. The U.S. Supreme Court previously struck down one city’s attempt to ban ritualistic animal killing because it interfered only with the practitioners of the Santeria religion.
Not everything should be decided by plebiscite. San Francisco voters will have enough measures to wade through in November — street repair and school bonds, two pension reforms, a half-cent sales tax, to name a few. It is one of the reasons we’re glad that supervisors Jane Kim and Eric Mar have withdrawn their support for the Fair Shelter Initiative, which resulted in its removal from the ballot.
The initiative threatened to gut The City’s successful Care Not Cash program, which has provided shelter for the homeless while saving $1.44 million per year in general assistance payments.
Kim, Mar and the other three supervisors who sponsored the measure are concerned that Care Not Cash does not provide enough shelter beds. But by working with The City’s Human Service Agency, an additional 24 beds have been secured for the general homeless population that previously had been reserved for other social service programs.
Mayor Ed Lee praised the effort to find an alternative solution, saying that it “will move The City towards the same goal without having to go through a costly ballot measure campaign.”
Also removed from the ballot were two poorly worded measures that obviously were not vetted properly by those who placed them on the ballot.
One, the demolition of residential properties, was intended to stop the redevelopment of Parkmerced, but would have allowed the project to move forward.
The second would not only ban Recreation and Park Department raising revenue but would not have allowed such simple things as birthday parties in our local parks.
Ballot measures can be effective methods for checking government excesses and gaining necessary voter approval for taxes and bonds, but they are not the cure for all of society’s ills.