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Judge Orders Circumcision Measure Removed from Ballot
Thursday, July 28th, 2011
“The issue for debate today is not the pros and cons of circumcision procedure,” judge says
By AARON GLANTZ on July 28, 2011 – 12:58 p.m. PDT
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta M. Giorgi ruled Thursday morning that an initiative banning circumcision must be removed from the city’s November ballot because it conflicts with a state law barring local governments from regulating health care professionals.
The ballot measure would have banned the circumcision of boys under 18 years old.
“The court concedes that there is legitimate debate on both sides,” Giorgi said from the bench before handing down her ruling.
But, she said, “the issue for debate today is not the pros and cons of circumcision procedure.”
Outside the courtroom, Lloyd Schofield, the retired hotel credit manager who led the signature-gathering effort for the initiative, told reporters that backers are “considering an appeal.”
On McAllister Street, a handful of anti-circumcision protesters made their case.
“Circumcision violated my body and altered the way I have sex,” Brian Levitt, a 51-year old City College student, said while holding a placard that read “Jews for the Rights of the Child.”
“We have enough signatures, and it should be placed on the ballot,” he said.
John Arntz, the director of San Francisco’s Department of Elections, said the city’s Ballot Simplification Committee is scheduled to begin preparing the ballot for the voters next week.
“If there is no appeal filed, I may ask the committee not to consider the circumcision measure,” Arntz said.
If an appeal is filed, Arntz said proponents will have less than a month to get a different judgement. Ballot arguments for and against propositions are due Aug. 18.
Abby Porth, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Community Relations Council, which had filed the lawsuit challenging the measure on behalf of Jewish and Muslim parents, cheered the ruling.
“Jews have practiced circumcision as a part of our religion for nearly 4,000 years,” she said. “We didn’t want Mr. Schofield to legislate away our religious tradition.”
“Circumcision is a sign of the covenant with God prescribed in the Torah,” said Jenny Benjamin, one of the named plaintiffs in the suit. “It’s a very big deal.”
Paid for by the Committee for Parental Choice and Religious Freedom, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council