Names of Ref 71 Petition Signers To Be Made Public
October 15th, 2009
A three-member panel of the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals has reversed a decison by U.S. district judge who blocked the release of the names of those who signed the petitions putting Referendum 71 on the Washington Ballot. Referrendum 71 asks voters to approve or reject Washington’s domestic partnership law.
Washington’s Public Records Act requires names of petitions to be part of the public record. Last month, Judge Ben Settle in Tacoma set aside that law and approved Protect Marriage Washington’s request to keep the names hidden. Washington’s Atturney General’s Office argued that the law is important to ensure transparency in government and the release of these records is a vital part of that transparency.
What Happened to That Mormon Ad for Washington’s Ref 71?
October 14th, 2009
A reader writes:
Jim – do you know what happened to the ad that you linked to this post? Was it a hoax? Or was it the real thing and got laughed off the air? I can never tell when I’m dealing with Mormons -which is too often since half my family is LDS. Did anyone get a copy of the ad before it was pulled?
Sure enough, that ad — complete with an LDS copyrighted image — was pulled from YouTube. Poof! Gone. Like it was never even there.
Washington’s First Ref 71 Ad
October 12th, 2009
The first commercial calling for approval of Washington’s Referendum 71 is out, but I hear it’s not on television. That takes money. Please give generously today.
Poll: Referendum 71 “Close”
October 7th, 2009
Another KING 5 News / SurveyUSA poll of 548 likely voters finds 45 percent plan to vote for approval of Referendum 71. Forty-two percent are voting to reject it and 13 percent remain undecided.
We have less than a month, folks. Contribute or volunteer.
Mormons Unleash New Ad Against Washington’s Ref 71
October 7th, 2009
Okay, technically the ad is by Protect Marriage Washington, but the imagery is heavily Mormonism — copyrighted Mormonism at that.
The second image you see flashing on the screen, of Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, is a copyrighted image from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You can find a copy of that image on their web site as part of their Gospel Art Picture Kit. Another one found on a web page titled, “What Do Mormons Believe About Adam and Eve.” It’s interesting reading, since it hints at a fallible God — or at least a God that gives conflicting instructions and it’s up to us to decide which set of instructions to follow.
But the best part of this ad is that it confirms everything we’ve ever warned about. It really is their ultimate goal to impose, by coercion, their religious beliefs on everyone else.
I hope they show this ad on every television in Washington. Maybe dreams really do come true!
Thank You, Microsoft
October 6th, 2009
Microsoft Corp. has donated $100,000 to Washington Families Standing Together, the campaign seeking through Referendum 71 to retain the latest expansion of the state’s domestic partnership law, up for a public vote on Nov. 3. The domestic partnership law extends marriage-like state benefits to gay and some senior couples.
Ken Hutcherson must be having a conniption.
9th Circuit to Hear Appeal of Special Treatment for Referendum 71 Signatories
September 22nd, 2009
Last month, U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle in Tacoma decided that public petitions to change legislation in the State of Washington were protected by a veil of secrecy. He declared that the First Amendment protected the anonymity of those who signed Referendum 71, an effort to deny rights to gay couples.
Anti-gay activists had argued that gay people and those who support them might deny their business to those who wanted to harm gay folk and therefore their identities must be kept secret so as to ensure that they could engage in anti-gay activism without any negative consequences.
The State, with an interest in open processes, has appeal to the Ninth Circuit, claiming that open government is in the best interest of the people. (Seattle PI)
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Attorney General Rob McKenna’s request for a fast-track appeal. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 14 in Pasadena, Calif.
Gay Philanthropist Donates $100K To Equality March
September 15th, 2009
From the Washington Blade:
Gay philanthropist Bruce Bastian of Utah has donated $70,000 to the National Equality March in D.C. and plans to contribute another $30,000 for the event because he strongly believes it will jump-start the LGBT rights movement.
Jump-start the LGBT rights movement? Nothing will jump-start it like two victories in Maine and Washington, and nothing will deflate it like two more defeats in November. Remember the huge letdown after Prop 8? Or are our attention spans really that short?
I appreciate the passion for the March but it is being foolishly misdirected. Not only are its goals ill-concieved and not thought through, but it’s slated for October 11 when Congress will not be in recess and President Obama will be out of town.
Frankly, this whole March idea may be a great ego boost for the organizers, but it’s incredibly selfish considering the needs of LGBT people who face ballot initiatives right now aimed at stripping them and their families of basic rights. That $130,000 can make a huge difference in those fights, not on the grassy lawn of the Mall while everyone else is out of town.
WA Anti-Gays to Remain Anonymous
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.
Referendum 71 Cleared for Vote
September 8th, 2009
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee has rejected the arguments by Washington Families Standing Together that only signatures of actual registered voters collected in conformity with required procedures should be considered as valid towards the anti-gay referendum.
WFST may appeal the decision, but time is quickly running out.
Referendum 71 Signatures Released… But Not Public
September 3rd, 2009
The suit to release the names of the signatories of Referendum 71 to gay groups seeking to know who signed (and to publish the names) has been delayed for another week. But the opponents of the referendum seeking to have invalid signatures disqualified were provided with the names.
Yes, it’s confusing.
In a dance between federal and state courts, US District Court Judge Benjamin Settle has just announced that petitions for Referendum 71 will remain sealed until September 10, when he will make his final decision whether the names and addresses of people who signed should be made public. However, Judge Settle did release petitions to Washington Families Standing Together (WAFST), which, earlier this afternoon, filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court to challenge the validity of signatures that were accepted by elections officials.
Washington Judge OK’s Referendum 71 Certification
September 2nd, 2009
In Washington, Judge Julie Spector has decided not to block Referendum 71 from being being certified. But her decision may be procedural rather than based on content. (Seattle PI)
Spector said challenges to a referendum must be filed in Thurston County Superior Court after certification – and supporters of the “everything but marriage” law still had that option for trying to get R-71 off the ballot. The group that brought the original lawsuit – Washington Families Standing Together – said it would go to court in Thurston County to try to block R-71.
As to whether the signatures were invalid, the judge found that question ambiguous.
In her ruling Spector said Reed has the power under state law to reject petitions with falsely signed declarations, petitions with blank declarations and signatures from people who weren’t yet registered to vote.
“It is conceded that the number of signatures represented by these inadequate petitions is significant. Without them, the secretary of state could not certify Referendum 71 for the ballot,” Spector wrote.
However she also said that state law does not require the secretary of state to not accept petitions that don’t meet statutory requirements. “In summary, under Washington case law it is unclear whether there are any limits to the secretary of state’s discretion as long as he has chosen to accept petitions rather than reject them.”
In other words, it was up to the Secretary of State whether he wanted to allow Referendum 71 to go to ballot. We will see if Superior Court agrees.
But judge also noted that there was language in the petition that may invalidate the entire process.
The judge also said there were highlights on top of the petitions that contain “apparent falsehoods,” such as the statement that if same-sex marriage becomes law public schools would be forced to teach that homosexuality is “normal…even over the objections of parents.”
Spector said the required signature-gatherers declaration swears that people who signed the petition did so “knowingly.”
“It is unclear whether a signature-gatherer can swear than an individual signer has signed the petition ‘knowingly’ when the signature-gatherer has allegedly misrepresented the contents of the petition,” Spector wrote.
Court Decision on Referendum 71 on Wednesday
August 31st, 2009
During a hearing Monday afternoon, King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector heard arguments from lawyers representing the Secretary of State, proponents of R-71 and Washington Families Standing Together, the group opposed to the referendum.
Families Standing Together filed a lawsuit last week requesting an injunction that would keep the referendum off the fall ballot. Spector said she will issue a ruling by Wednesday on the matter.
Referendum 71 Qualifies
August 31st, 2009
From the Secretary of State’s website:
With the Referendum 71 signature-check now nearly complete, state election officials say they’ve now confirmed that sponsors turned in more than the bare minimum needed for a spot on the November statewide ballot. Signature-checkers passed the 121,000 mark on Monday, the 23rd day of an exhaustive hand check of all 137,000-plus signatures submitted on July 25 by foes of a new “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law passed by the Legislature in April.
The numbers still are unofficial and not final, as checkers do one final check of hundreds of previously rejected signatures of people who weren’t initially found in the voter registration records. That should extend the margin a bit, but the final margin could be in the range of 1,000.
Unless the court rules against the Secretary’s procedure of accepting unsigned and fraudulently stamped petition sheets, refusing to double-check identified questionable signatures, and allowing signatures for not-yet-registered voters, then Washingtonians will be asked to validate or reject the legislature’s action.
Take a moment now to think about what you can do to impact the outcome of votes in Washington and Maine.
Referendum 71 Hinges on Lawsuit
August 27th, 2009
The Washington Secretary of State’s Election Division has now observed 125,631 (91.2%) of the signatures submitted for validation. Of these, 110,797 have been accepted and approximately another 500 will be accepted by the “third check” process.
This means that of the remaining 12,058 signatures to review, the opponents of domestic partnership enhancements need only get 9,260 signatures, or 76.7% deemed valid. This is, at this time, a foregone conclusion.
However, Washington Families has sued to stop the Secretary of State from certifying the signatures. They raise a number of issues encompassing several irregularities.
Procedural: The SoS is accepting petitions that are not signed by the circulater or which are known to be fraudulently signature-stamped by the campaign manager. While this may seem a matter of technicality, the fraudulent signature-stamps is a criminal act and in addition to those petitions being rejected, Larry Stickney should be prosecuted.
Fraudulent: Signatures are being accepted as valid even when it is known that the signer was not registered to vote at the time they signed.
Dismissive: The Elections Division is refusing to reinspect over 1,000 specific instances where observers believe they have detected error. I’m confused as to the purpose of observers if the Secretary refuses to listen to their observations.
Should Washington Families prevail in having the 36,154 signatures on unsigned or stamped petitions be removed then the referendum is invalid. If the unregistered signers or the specific errors be considered, then the referendum again becomes to close to call.
Addendum: For those following the peculiar “third check”, had this step not been incorporated, today the fail-rate would have for the first time exceeded 12.4% and the failure of this referendum would have been predictable.