Court skeptical on keeping Washington state petitioner IDs private

Posted by Jesse J. Holland of the Associated Press:

"The Supreme Court seemed skeptical Wednesday of arguments by gay rights opponents that the names on a petition asking for the repeal of Washington state's domestic partnership law should be kept secret.

"Several justices questioned whether people who voluntarily signed a petition asking for a public referendum could then expect privacy. They were concerned that keeping the names of petitioners private might invalidate other vital open records like voter registration rolls or lists of donors to political candidates.

"'Running a democracy takes a certain amount of civic courage,' said Justice Antonin Scalia, who also called the arguments to keep the names private 'touchy-feely.'

"The case could draw a new line between voters' desire for openness in government and the right to political speech unfettered by fear of intimidation.

"Opponents of the law that expanded the rights of gay couples mounted a petition drive that succeeded in getting a referendum on the 'everything-but-marriage' law on last year's ballot. But voters narrowly backed the law that grants registered domestic partners the same legal rights as married couples.

"While the campaign was under way, gay rights supporters sought access to the petitions under Washington's open records law. Protect Marriage Washington, the group that organized opposition to the law, objected, saying its members would be harassed if their names were made public."

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As posted on GLAD.org:

"Three of the nation’s leading LGBT legal organizations, Lambda Legal, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) – together with the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force – have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, vigorously and thoroughly refuting the false claims presented to the Court in this and other cases.

"Some of the instances of supposed 'intimidation' cited by opponents and noted in the amicus brief include:

"A country club member in California, a supporter of Proposition 8, noted that 'the openly gay members of the country club have changed their attitudes toward me.  They used to greet me warmly; now, they give me looks of disdain and do not greet me as I pass.'

"A person with a yard sign supporting Proposition 8 was disturbed on Halloween that some people 'pointed and whispered to one another in disapproval' during trick-or-treating.

"A woman was upset that her brother, who is gay, would no longer speak to her after she told him she might vote for Proposition 8.

"As the amicus brief says, these complaints 'are not only trivial, they reflect a fundamental refusal to accept the legitimacy of speech that disagrees with the complainants’ viewpoints, deeming it ‘hateful’ or ‘harassing’ simply because they do not like hearing it.'”

Click to read the full GLAD post: [Link]