First, people got to hide.
Now, apparently, a judge still isn’t so sure:
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.
It’s not compelling that a group of people are trying to repeal a law that grants rights, but they can’t know who the people are who are trying to change it? Not only would that make it harder to campaign against them, but it also seems like it might disrupt the legitimacy of government. The first step to tyranny is when the government says, “We don’t have to tell you who is trying to take your rights away; just trust us, they’re succeeding.”
But Protect Marriage argued that the law “chills free speech … particularly when it is reasonably probable that those exercising their First Amendment rights would be subjected to threats and harassment.”
Stephen Pidgeon, attorney with Protect Marriage, said: “We think this is a good decision. It protects Washington voters’ right to speak freely even in impassioned debate.”
Let’s make two things clear. First, trying to take rights away is both threatening and harassing. It’s a group of people saying, “We don’t like, we don’t respect you, we think you’re less than, and we’re going to decide for you what you can and cannot do in our country.” It’s funny how Protect Marriage has no problem taking away rights that aren’t even equal yet (domestic partnership marriage-like benefits), but insists on special rights for its signatories.
Second… impassioned debate? IMPASSIONED DEBATE? A debate is between two or more people. You stand on a stage in front of an audience where everybody can see everybody involved. Debate is not between shadows. You can’t debate if you don’t show up. If you don’t show up, you concede. You don’t get to phone it in with a voice encoder while you hide backstage.
The Washington Secretary of State Office gets this:
But Brian Zylstra, spokesman for Secretary of State Sam Reed, said the judge’s decision “is a step away from open government.”
“When people sign a referendum or initiative petition, they are trying to change state law,” he said. “We believe that changing state law should be open to public view.”
Unfortunately, this judge doesn’t want his buddies who are trying to legislate discrimination to have to stand up for themselves. That would be so unfair!
Still, in issuing the preliminary injunction, Settle said Protect Marriage has shown it likely would prevail.
Settle said Protect Marriage has established that it’s likely that signing a referendum petition is protected free speech, which includes the right to speak anonymously.
He said he was “not persuaded that waiver of one’s fundamental right to anonymous political speech is a prerequisite for participation in Washington’s referendum process.”
So let me get this straight, Your Honor… If every single one of those voters had signed just “John Doe” or “Jane Doe,” that would have been okay? Because that would be anonymous political speech.
NO. They signed their names. They knew before they signed that their names would be disclosed. If they don’t want their names revealed, then they either shouldn’t have signed, or they can go ahead and rescind the referendum. If Washington voters want to repeal rights, then we get to know who these Washington voters are.
Furthermore, in light of the state’s own verification process, Settle said he wasn’t convinced that release of the names is necessary as “an important check on the integrity of the referendum election process.”
Indeed, Settle said that Protect Marriage is likely to succeed in its claim that the public-records act is unconstitutional as applied to the disclosure of referendum petitions.
I usually don’t throw around words like this because I don’t want to sound like a FOX News blowhard, but are Settle and Protect Marriage fascists? A fascist wants one dictator to have all power, right? And Settle feels that a group like Protect Marriage doesn’t have to consist of real people, but can speak on their behalf with the weight of all of their voices… and that open democracy isn’t necessary to protect the integrity of determining the laws of the land… and trying to keep things open and make people speak for themselves in legally-binding matters is unconstitutional… and that the opinion of the ruling class determines the rights of minorities… and they should be totally protected from any sort of criticism or resistance… isn’t that fascism? Like, not as some ugly insult, but quite literally?
Brian Murphy, who is prepared to post the names of signers on his searchable Web site, whosigned.org, called it “shocking that Protect Marriage Washington is attacking gay and lesbian couples and their families and then somehow claiming the right to secrecy and victim status for themselves.”
Thank goodness for religious privilege. Those nice Christian people get to hide out while they promote inequality throughout the land.
Yeah, we’ve made SO much progress for homosexuals in this country. Too bad the same harassment and repeals of rights make 2009 look just like 1969.