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Marriage Opponents Lose Pursuit Of Special Rights

Jim Burroway

October 21st, 2011

It’s been a bad week for the National Organization for Marriage. Two separate courts this week ruled against NOM’s attempt to enshrine a special right to flout laws intended to lend transparency to the electoral process. The first loss came on Monday when Federal Judge Benjamin Settle ruled in Doe v Reed (PDF: 112KB/34 pages) that the state of Washington must disclose the names of citizens who signed the petition putting Referendum 71 on the ballot. Protect Marriage Washington, a NOM affiliate, sued to block the release in a bid to stake a special exemption to Washington’s campaign disclosure laws, claiming that signatories would be subject to threats and harassments. Judge Settle rejected that claim:

While Plaintiffs have not shown serious and widespread threats, harassment, or reprisals against the signers of R-71, or even that such activity would be reasonably likely to occur upon the publication of their names and contact information, they have developed substantial evidence that the public advocacy of traditional marriage as the exclusive definition of marriage, or the expansion of rights for same sex partners, has engendered hostility in this state, and risen to violence elsewhere, against some who have engaged in that advocacy. This should concern every citizen and deserves the full attention of law enforcement when the line gets crossed and an advocate becomes the victim of a crime or is subject to a genuine threat of violence. The right of individuals to speak openly and associate with others who share common views without justified fear of harm is at the very foundation of preserving a free and open society.

The facts before the Court in this case, however, do not rise to the level of demonstrating that a reasonable probability of threats, harassment, or reprisals exists as to the signers of R-71, now nearly two years after R-71 was submitted to the voters in Washington State.

That was on Monday. To bookend the week perfectly, Federal Judge Morrison England, Jr., today issued a bench ruling denying ProtectMarriage.com and NOM’s quest for a special right to withhold the release of campaign finance records related to the passage of Propositon 8 three years ago. Judge England said that the groups failed to prove that they should be exempt from campaign finance laws which are designed to protect the public during expensive initiative campaigns.

Judge England is expected to issue a written ruling later.

Comments

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enough already
October 21st, 2011 | LINK

And NOM will ignore it and nothing will be done about it.

Phil
October 21st, 2011 | LINK

This is all well and good, but isn’t part of the point of campaign disclosure laws to ensure the fairness and transparency of elections and election campaigns as they are happening?

The next time NOM sues to keep donors/signatories secret, I’d like to see a judge order that the election in question be postponed until the matter is settled in court.

Timothy
October 21st, 2011 | LINK

Well the list is out and I downloaded it to see who from my state donated. Much to my dismay several large donations came from a neighboring city and a bunch from my very own. :( What a sad way to spend your money taking away the rights of others.

Bill T.
October 21st, 2011 | LINK

I just read an article at The Raw Story that Rick Santorum will die before allowing same sex marriage to become legal in all 50 states. I’d like to know if Rick plans on dying in private or with he televise his demise? And, will his death be on a public access channel like C-SPAN or will it be “pay per view?”

Mudduck
October 21st, 2011 | LINK

I suspect that NOM’s real terror is that people will see their names who didn’t sign, or who were told that they were signing something else. Paid signature gatherers are seldom scrupulous in their methods. Neither are today’s holy warriors.

Wildwood Guy
October 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Think Progress reported yesterday that the Referendum 71 signatories has now been halted.

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/10/21/350353/washington-state-halts-release-of-referendum-71-signatories-nom-asks-supporters-to-pray-over-loss/

Not certain how much of a difference this is going to make as there are already 30 DVDs released with the names of those signatories… or why the 9th Circuit would halt the release on the emergency motion. Seems like the train has already left the station. Not much point for the referendum signers to be doing this now, other than costing the State of WA taxpayers more $$.

customartist
October 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Phil,

Yours is an excellent point. If it is years after NOM influences and wins an initiative, and especially if NOM is not heavily penalized to the point that they do not do the same thing again, then Court Findings are relatively moot.

Until elections and/or initiatives are indeed halted due to improper procedures, we have no political fairness.

John
October 22nd, 2011 | LINK

If one is not prepared to publically own up to one’s beliefs and convictions, one should not be signing petitions. Anything else is simply cowardice. Also, I can’t think of one instance where a petition signer has been harassed or worse for signing a petition. Any governmental action, which signing petitions such as this are, done in the dark should scare anybody.

customartist
October 22nd, 2011 | LINK

And Timothy, Please share?

Reed Boyer
October 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Ah . . . I feel a cool breeze of sanity sweeping the West Coast.

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