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You are here: Fighting Hate People Assemblyman Mike Gatto Fights for the Right to Circumcise Male Children in California

Assemblyman Mike Gatto Fights for the Right to Circumcise Male Children in California

The attack on Jewish religious practices has been an expression of hatred against Jews. So one can suspect the motives behind any effort to ban circumcision as recently took place in San Francisco. We can thank Assemblyman Mike Gato for quickly bringing a law to the State Assembly that gives legal backing to those who have their sons circumcised.

San Francisco resident Lloyd Schofield proposed a law making it illegal to "circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years." The practice would become a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail. There would be no religious exemptions.

Supporters of the ban saw male circumcision as a form of genital mutilation that is unnecessary, extremely painful and even dangerous. They say parents should not be able to force the decision on their young child.

"Parents are really guardians, and guardians have to do what's in the best interest of the child. It's his body. It's his choice," said Lloyd Schofield, the measure's lead proponent and a longtime San Francisco resident. He added the cutting away of the foreskin from the penis is a more invasive medical procedure than many new parents or childless individuals realize.

But a clearly anti-Semitic aspect was demonstrated with the appearance on the website foreskinman.com, a San Diego-based group established by Matthew Hess, of "Foreskin Man No. 2," in which a suspiciously Aryan "intactivist" superhero battles "Monster Mohel". The story centers on the story of Sarah and Jethro Glick and their newborn son. Sarah thought that she and her husband had agreed not to circumcise their son, but Jethro had other plans. He secretly invited the villain, “Monster Mohel,” to circumcise “little Glick.”

Monster Mohel, a bearded man with a black hat on his head and a tallis around his neck, is described this way: “Nothing excites Monster Mohel more than cutting into the penile flesh of an eight-day-old infant boy.”

By May 2011, elections officials confirmed the initiative had qualified for the November 8 city ballot with more than 7,700 valid signatures from city residents. Initiatives must have at least 7,168 names to qualify.

But by July 2011, Judge Loretta M. Giorgi , a San Francisco County Superior Court judge, ruled that a measure prohibiting male circumcision should be taken off the November ballot. She ordered San Francisco's director of elections to strike the measure from the city's ballot because she said that it is "expressly preempted" by the California Business and Professions Code.

But Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Burbank felt there was also a need for special legislation and introduced AB768 in July. He said he wanted to prevent local governments from creating their own "patchwork of regulations" covering medical procedures in the state. He furthermore said that the practice has cultural and health benefits and should require statewide rules.

AB 768 precludes "a city, county, or city and county ordinance, regulation, or administrative action from prohibiting or restricting the practice of male circumcision, or the exercise of a parent’s authority to have a child circumcised." Further, AB768 provides "that the Legislature finds and declares that the laws affecting male circumcision must have uniform application throughout the state."

The state assembly approved AB 768 in a 67-2 vote. The bill was then made into a law when Gov. Jerry Brown signed it on Sunday Oct. 2, 2011

Mike Gatto was born in the Franklin Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, to Joseph and Isolde Gatto. His grandfather was a steelworker, who immigrated to the United States at the age of 16. Mike's father was a public schoolteacher and Mike's mother, when she was in her mid-forties, with three children, attended night law school and, after four years, fulfilled her dream of obtaining a juris doctorate.

Mike attended Glendale Presbyterian school (in Glendale), Ivanhoe Elementary (in Silver Lake), Our Mother of Good Counsel School (in Los Feliz), and Loyola High School. He then graduated UCLA with a degree in History. He has held down a job every day of his life since his sixteenth birthday, including helping pay for his college education by changing tires at Sears.

After working on a variety of other campaigns and causes, including serving as "Sergeant at Arms" for the Los Angeles County Democratic Party Central Committee, Mike took a job with United States Congressman Brad Sherman, who represents the San Fernando Valley and Burbank. There, he helped people who were having a difficult time getting a federal government agency to act on their request.

While working for the Congressman during the day, Mike put himself through law school at night, at Loyola Law School. He graduated magna cum laude, earning a job at Los Angeles' oldest law firm, O’Melveny & Myers.

Mike's pro bono success for Marco Renteria, a truck driver from the San Fernando Valley who was cheated out of the title to his home by a criminal mortgage-fraud ring, was featured in a front-page story in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, as an example of a private citizen stepping in to obtain justice where justice had previously been denied. Also, in the first successful such case in decades, Mike won asylum for a Congolese Tutsi woman facing terrible depredation if forced to return to Africa, under a rarely used law written by then-Senator John F. Kennedy.

Mike is a member of the following organizations: The Burbank Democratic Club; The California League of Conservation Voters; Democrats for Israel; The Sierra Club; The Silver Lake Improvement Association; The Stonewall Democratic Club; and The United Steelworkers AMP (In memory of his Grandfather).

Mike Gatto was first elected to the California Assembly in a Special Election held on April 13, 2010. At the time of his election, Mike was the youngest Democrat in the California State Legislature, and the second-youngest overall. In 2010, he was one of two legislators out of 120 in the California legislature who did not introduce any legislation sponsored by a special interest, a practice he has continued in 2011. In 2011, he was listed as just one of three legislators out of 120 who always "show up to work," missing less than 1% (or just 12) votes in all 2010.