This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the opinions of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
September 11th, 2009
“There, I guess King George can read that!” declared John Hancock signing in a large firm script and thereby attaching his name, reputation, and fortune to the risky venture of independence.
It’s likely that Hancock made no such declaration. But the myth has become part of our national identity, less of an anecdote and more of a mindset. We Americans like those who stand behind their convictions, those who think that if you believe in something that you have to be willing to put your name on the line, to be willing to risk something for your principles.
We don’t have much respect for those who want the privilege of their position, but are unwilling to risk anything. We don’t like back-room dealers, vigilantes who hide their identity under a sheet, or politicians who say one thing and do another. Our laws demand that an accused be allowed to confront his accuser in court face to face. Our political process requires that votes by legislators – and even debate – be public so that we can see who stands where. If you want to make the decisions, you need to be accountable for them.
In short, we don’t like sneaks.
But in Washington, the anti-gays are sneaks. They managed to scrape together enough signatures (with the help of the Secretary of State) to qualify the anti-gay Referendum 71 for the ballot. But they don’t want to be accountable for those signatures. They want to deny gay people basic rights… but they want to do it on the sly.
The supporters of Referendum 71 have sued to force the State of Washington to hide the names of the signatories, to keep their identities secret. And a federal judge has agreed. (Seattle Times)
A federal judge has continued to keep private the names and addresses of those who signed Referendum 71, saying they likely are protected under the First Amendment and that the state failed to prove a compelling public interest in their release.
U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle in Tacoma granted a preliminary injunction today, blocking the state from making the petitions public.
Now the First Amendment of the Constitution of which I am aware says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And “the people” in Washington have petitioned, which is their right. But this judge thinks that they are entitled to do so anonymously. And I think that this is a most dangerous interpretation.
This sets a precedent for other petitions and other appeals to government. It opens the door for special interests of all sorts to change laws and propose initiatives under a cloak of secrecy, denying the citizenry even the basic knowledge of who is behind such efforts.
And it does not stop with petitions. If the First Amendment protects identity for petitions, what else does it protect? If, indeed, petitions can be without scrutiny, if the subjects of such petitions can be denied knowledge of the petitioners, what else in the First Amendment is also protected by the shield of anonymity?
Is the press allowed a veil of anonymity? Will the courts deny the victim of a libelous attack knowledge about who owns, operates, or writes for the paper that defamed him?
Is peaceful assembly now a masked mob?
Perhaps this judge is familiar with a First Amendment of which I am unaware. But if so, I’m sure it is one that is attached to a constitution that would be foreign to our founders who, like John Hancock, were willing to risk life, freedom, and property to loudly and largely put their names on their revolution.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.