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Ref. 71 Squabble Taken Up By US Supreme Court


As many of you may know the US Supreme Court has decided to take up the Ref. 71 case, involving the release of the names those who signed Referendum 71.
Ref 71 being the successful effort to get Washington's expanded domestic partnerships law up to a public vote last year.  The No on R 71  campaign was defeated allowing the states expanded domestic partnership laws to stay on the books and go into effect.  How ever, the political groups behind No on R 71 most notably "Protect Marriage Washington" has been waging a court battle since shortly after their petition started to under go the official counting processed to prevent the release of the names of the petition signers as required under Washington states open government laws, most notably the promotion about petition signatures having been voted into law threw the petition process it's self in the 1970's.


This is not the only case concerning the release of position signalers, Tim Eyman also has a stake in this case has he currently has a case at the state level also trying to block the release of the names of those who signed his petitions this year. (most notably his failed I 1033 tax initiative)

How ever the main parties in this case are those of the No on R 71 represented for the most part publicly (and basically pooled finchley as) Protect Marriage Washington, and the Yes on R 71 camp as well as the state and state auditors office (the states job of course being to defend state law) The basic argument that PMW is trying to go with is that signing a petition is political free speech in the same vain as voting and that there for to realise ones name as the sign of a petition is against their first amendment rights.  They are also claiming that they have a petition of 100 people, who allegedly where "harassed" and had their campaign yard sings "vandalized" during the campaign, who fear that they might be harassed if their names are leased and it becomes part of public record that they where a sign of the petition.

On the other side is the state and Yes on R 71 camp, whose basic case is that, a petition to put an amendment  to the law up to public vote is a legislative process. and that those who sign the petition are acting as quasi legislators, and that since this is an act of legislation, that it must be a part of the public record along with the names of those that supported it the same as the legislative roll call must be part of the public record.  This is also where you get into the other part of the argument that the petition process is akin to political speech in the sense that it is the same as if one where to go to testify before the legislature for or against any piece of legislation, or to implore them to take up or strike down any given piece of legislation, it is political speech but there is no assumption that it is private.

I don't see how it can be argued that the petition process is inherently the same sort of political free speech as voting for the first thing to petition process is an effort to get a matter on the ballot to be voted on there for it is clearly an act of legislation, as public legislature and petitions that meet the required criteria are the only way for an issue to make it onto the ballot for voter consideration. 

Then there is the fact that along not part of the petition process is ones decisions secret nor secure, they are singing the petition in public space in full public view of any one that wishes to see. As well the signature gatherers many of them payed handle the signatures and passe them along to many others before they are final gather to be officially submitted and counted by the state, again the whole time with not secrecy there for allowing any one along the process (non of whom are state elections employees) to see said petition singers signature in support of putting the issue on the ballot.  

Then you get into their argument that the signatures can not be released for fear of harassment for their stance on the issue.  There are laws that deal with harassment with protection of ones property ones self and ones business from others, they are perfectly capable of availing them selves of the protections these laws provide.  However an inquisitive mind would ask why now this fear based on some alleged harassment (non physical reported) and alleged vandalism (only seen reports about vandalised campaign signs nothing new from ether side on every single issue/campaign up to vote with any heated debate) yet for that about 4 decades that the names of partition signers have been public record these fears have not been an issue, and there is no credible actual evidence now to prove it would be.

What in reality this all boils down to is they want the right try and take the rights of other citizens away threw the political process, to use the laws and the electorate to threaten and harass other fellow citizens all under the guise of free speech yet at the same time to keep their identity secret to keep from having any potentially negative repercussions for their free speech, something that was never guaranteed in the constitution.  the only granite that the constitution gave to free speech was that as long as your speech dose not cause eminent harm (yelling fire in a crowded theater) you have the right to say what every you wish, how ever it dose not granite nor dictate that others can not exact for lack of a better word retaliation (as long as its not physical or harassing) by verbally sparing with you, publicly calling you out, by boycotting your business establishment, by letting their social network know about what kind of vial things you have put forth using your free speech.

If it was not for the serious implications that this has not only one the future of government openness and the petition system in washington state (as well as the 27 other states that have voter petition systems) but also the threat it posses to the gay right movement as a whole it would be comically ironic.  The very conservatives who want smaller open government who advocate invasion of privacy for security (think government eavesdropping) are suing the government to block the release of their names as part of open government.  Unfortunately this case could have the potential the allow just that those that oppose the gay community to increasingly use the Referendum/Initiative system to put gay rights up to public vote with impunity as no one will know who is supporting these measure.  Not only that but it has the potential to be a giant step backward in open government as well, allowing private interest groups to further abuse the public Initiative process to better their own interest at the expens of the public.

Comments

  1. What is with these Protect Marriage people, and how are they sprouting throughout the US? Do they not have any jobs, other than finding the gay teletubby?

    It's hard to keep up with all the propositions, there are numbers, a combo number letter, a yes means one thing in one state, a no means the other in another state.

    After reading this, I can only extend an ultra sarcastic "boo-hoo" to those who don't want their names released. What gall!

    They take rights from other people, and are then too cowardly to show they did it? Their signs of hate caused irreperable damage and harassment to the members of the GLBT community, and here they go, running with their tails between their legs, saying they don't want to be harassed.

    Oh, whatevs!

    I am in California, and I have a list as to who made what donations down to a dollar.

    Enough is enough. Once we pull out of the wars, and help recovery efforts with Haiti, then Obama can focus on marriage equality on a federal level.

    And the haters will just have to cry about it. I mean, really, why are they so opposed to equality?

    Removing psychotic fairytale religious myths from the equation, wouldn't they want to live in an equal country that protects ALL its citizens?

    Infuriating!

    ladybugmagic - www.marshmallowhugs.ws

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow...I suggest a new strategy in fighting anti-gay conservatives....we point ladybugmagic at them and let her rip! I might actually feel slightly concerned about them being permanently maimed...but only for a second. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Luckily the campaign contributions are still public record (as the petition signatures legally are supposed to be)
    but if they can do away with that its one step down the road to taking away contribution disclosure too!

    ReplyDelete

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