Green Room

All Over but the Outing

posted at 2:01 am on October 21, 2009 by

This is one of those posts where I’m reading a lot of subtext packed into a soupçon of text. In such cases, it’s always possible that I’m reading more than the authors and actors intended; but on the other hand, that doesn’t mean my read is wrong.

We retort, you deride!

The passion play begins thus: Over the past several years, the legislature of the state of Washington has enacted three succeeding domestic partnership (DP) laws, each moving DP closer to same-sex marriage (SSM); with the last iteration, lawmakers gave all marriage rights to domestic partners… literally everything but the word “marriage”:

Lawmakers in Washington state have taken an incremental approach to increasing gay rights without actually taking on the state’s marriage ban, which was upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2006. The following year, lawmakers passed the state’s first domestic partnership law granting a handful of rights, like hospital visitation, to gay and lesbian couples.

In 2008, that law was expanded to add more rights, and this year the latest law added such partnerships to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are mentioned. The statutes range from labor and employment rights to pensions and other public employee benefits.

Nobody, of course, has troubled to ask the citizens of Washington state whether they’re down with this. Why give ignorant peons who lack “the vision of the anointed” any say in such an important institution as DP?

Nobody until now:

Conservative Christians rallied to get Referendum 71 on the November ballot, arguing that Washington state’s latest move is the last step before full civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples in the state.

Referendum 71 would of course repeal some of these grants of rights; it’s the equivalent of California’s Proposition 8, which overturned a state supreme-court ruling mandating full SSM. As in California, voters will now actually have the opportunity to overturn the offending actions of their own arrogant legislature.

(Note: I am not a hypocrite; I would absolutely oppose state or federal courts overturning the DP law by judicial decree — absent a specific prohibition the state constitution — just as I oppose courts rewriting the marriage definition to force SSM down citizens’ throats. This is a purely political question. But the people themselves are the “best evidence” of what they want, rather than the proxy of a state legislature; thus I always accept a referendum on such basic issues as more binding and dispositive than a mere vote in the state lege.)

But here is where things get creepy: In response to the petition that put Referendum 71 on the ballot, gay activists have become obsessed with “outing” everybody who signed it — publicly printing not just their names but their addresses as well. They even wanted to put all the personal information on the internet, so it would easily be searchable by anybody who suspected his neighbor might be insufficiently tolerant.

Activists claim they are only trying to exercise the state’s “public records disclosure law;” but it’s hard not to come away with the sick feeling that SSM proponents are hoping that friends and neighbors of the petition signers will punish them for their apostasy, especially if they live in a liberal (or gay) neighborhood. That is, I believe the legal fight to release the signers’ names and addresses is a transparent attempt to intimidate and frighten them into not signing any future petitions.

So far, the legal fight has see-sawed between a District Court judge, the notoriously left-liberal 9th Circus Court of Appeals, and one Supreme Court Justice:

In September, U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle temporarily barred state officials from releasing the identities of those who signed the referendum petitions. Settle held that releasing the names could chill the First Amendment rights of petition signers.

Gay rights supporters and open-government groups sought to disclose the names, saying that signers should be identified so the public knows who is behind Referendum 71.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Settle’s decision last week. The appeals court said Washington’s secretary of state can release the names and addresses of people who signed petitions calling for a public vote.

In appealing to [Justice Anthony] Kennedy to intervene, Protect Marriage Washington argued that state officials had suddenly changed a long-standing practice of keeping confidential the identities of those who signed referendum petitions. The group said signers of the petition fear hostile confrontations from gay rights supporters and noted that their campaign manager had received death threats.

Justice Kennedy issued a temporary restraining order on the ruling of the 9th Circuit; and just today, the full Court ruled on the TRO:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld an order preventing Washington State from releasing the names of more than 120,000 people who signed petitions seeking a voter referendum on whether to give same-sex couples most of the same rights as married couples.

The 8-to-1 decision, with Justice John Paul Stevens dissenting, upheld a recent ruling in Federal District Court in Washington that was overturned last week by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The order by the Supreme Court said the injunction against releasing the names would remain in place at least until parties involved filed new motions. That process could take months and essentially assures that the names will remain anonymous through the Nov. 3 referendum.

This was an obvious attempt to harass and intimidate voters whose only sin was to exercise their First Amendment right to petition government for a redress of grievances, and it went far beyond mere political hardball. “Hardball” is falsely accusing Rush Limbaugh of being a racist… a man who has one of the largest megaphones in the world to announce his innocence.

Rather, the activists’ targets were free elections and the vote. The campaign to “out” the signers of the Referendum 71 petition is the vilest abuse of “action directe” I’ve seen in ages: The gay Left is trying to corrupt the very fabric of democracy itself.

The core of democracy is legislative representation coupled with public participation — not legislative usurpation enabled by public passivity and poltroonery. By trying to frighten voters into shunning the political marketplace, the anti-71 mob orders the citizens of Washington to sit quietly in the dark and wait for instructions.

That’s despicable. It’s unAmerican. It’s French.

The role of the government anent petitions, as the Supreme Court has pretty clearly held (though it was only reinstating a TRO), begins and ends with verifying the petition signatures to ensure they are all registered voters and that they petition circulators have met the numeric threshold. There is no valid reason to release the names and addresses, thus holding the signers hostage to any gay-rights thug who wants to go straight-bashing.

(By the same token, I would fight to protect the privacy of anyone who signed a petition to implement SSM in Washington or any other state. But then, I’m not a leftist activist: I actually believe in all that hooey about freedom of speech and the right to petition.)

I’m going to stick my limb out: The attempt to publish dangerous and threatening information about the signers will be Washington’s “Paul Wellstone funeral,” a defining moment that triggers a number of citizens to turn out and vote for Referendum 71 who, absent the blatant intimidation tactics, would have just stood in bed. Referendum 71 will not only pass, it will pass with a much larger majority than it would ordinarily have done.

When all is said and much is done, we are all still Americans, with a deep respect for the sacred traditions and creeds of our unique country. The inability of the Left — including our illustrative president and his henchmen — to understand that much about the United States of America is our greatest weapon against them.

Cross-posted on Big Lizards

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I approve the SC decision, particularly in regard to the release of addresses. However, what prevents a group of people opposed to a petition from photographing said petition when it is offered to them to sign? With the cell phones of today, practically everyone is walking around with a camera.

Even with just a list of names, nothing currently prevents scanning that list into a computer using OCR if necessary, then running Google searches on the list for addresses.

Face it, privacy is increasingly hard to maintain in today’s world.

GnuBreed on October 21, 2009 at 5:26 AM

Signing a petition is not a private act. I do not want “private petitions” having the ability to accomplish things. That makes no sense. Threats and intimidation need to be addressed separately by the law.

LibTired on October 21, 2009 at 9:04 AM

The government not releasing the names would be because doing so would have a chilling effect on speech, which is not allowed (well not supposed to be anyway).

This is just a petition to put a ballot initiative in front of voters, so if the voters don’t agree, they vote it down. People’s rights are still represented in that vote, and that would lead to the names being meaningless for the public discourse.

A private citizen can take the picture and post it. The only thing they would possibly have to be worried about would be incitement to violence.

kerncon on October 21, 2009 at 9:19 AM

Signing a petition is not a private act. I do not want “private petitions” having the ability to accomplish things. That makes no sense. Threats and intimidation need to be addressed separately by the law.

LibTired on October 21, 2009 at 9:04 AM

But with the advent of “special” protected groups, those laws will not be equaly enforced.

Gays can speak out against straights… but straights cannot speak out against gays in the mordern political climate.

Just a Moslems can yell “death to America”, but soon by UN fiat we won’t be able to even talk about what the Koran actualy says…

Romeo13 on October 21, 2009 at 10:58 AM

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