|McKenna, Reed, Federal Judge throw 138,000 citizen defenders of marriage under bus|
When dialogue and disagreement degenerate into the thuggery of intimidation and retaliation, civility is lost, and with it our liberties.
October 17, 2011 - Sadly, and in spite of the hundreds of pages of documented examples of threats and reprisals directed at supporters of traditional marriage, not only in Washington but across the country, Federal Court Judge Benjamin Settle ruled on Monday that the 137,500 names on the Referendum 71 petition are now public information.
Secretary of State Reed and Attorney General McKenna have argued, at great expense to Washington State taxpayers, that the names of the signers should be made public in the name of disclosure. Reed hailed Settle's decision as "a victory for transparency and open disclosure in our state's referendum and initiative process" and said he would release the names immediately.
Protect Marriage Washington's legal team, led by Attorney James Bopp Jr., has filed a notice of appeal of the decision and an emergency motion for an injunction that will be filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Protect Marriage Washington sued the state over 26 months ago to block release of the Referendum 71 petitions when two militant homosexual activist groups vowed to reveal the names of signers on a pair of searchable websites, whosigned.org and knowthyneighbor.org; and to encourage their readers to initiate "uncomfortable conversations" with signers.
Evidence brought forward by Protect Marriage Washington included death threats, extensive vandalism, overt threats of destruction of property, arson and threats of arson, intimidating emails and phone calls, hate mail, mailed envelopes containing white suspicious powder, blacklists, loss of employment and job opportunities, and gross expressions of anti-religious bigotry, including vandalism and threats directed at religious institutions and religious adherents-all for doing nothing more than standing up for traditional marriage. Nevertheless, Judge Settle wrote that Protect Marriage Washington was unable to prove "a reasonable probability that the threats, harassment, or reprisals exists as to the signers of R-71, now nearly two years after R-71 was submitted to the voters in Washington State."
As noted by the Seattle Times on Monday, "in making its case for secrecy, Protect Marriage faced a Catch 22: that it was impossible to show harassment of people whose names were not public."
Protect Marriage Washington Attorney Stephen Pidgeon called Judge Settle's decision a "dramatic setback to the right of privacy in the state of Washington. There were death threats, acts of violence, harassment and published declarations that there would be harassment. The court erred."
Larry Stickney, Campaign Manager for Protect Marriage Washington said he was "disappointed by the decision but not surprised. After all, we live in the politically correct State of Washington," said Stickney. "What did surprise me throughout the process, however, was the complete lack of empathy and seeming hostility we encountered from the Attorney General's office. Rob McKenna's personal efforts to trivialize the confrontations, the threats, the obscenity laced e-mails and phone calls that we endured may have won him the case, but it will not win him the hearts of 138,000 citizen defenders of marriage in Washington State."
"We have argued that our cause was an unusual circumstance which put pro-marriage citizens who participated in the R-71 initiative process in danger of unwanted threatening calls, contacts or worse, and should be handled with discretion and consideration", said Gary Randall, President of the Faith and Freedom Network. "We have argued that releasing the signatures would create a chilling effect on all future initiative efforts regarding homosexual efforts to redefine the culture. The decision to release the names is bad news for Washington State. I believe there will be more harassment, and I pray to God there isn't more than that".
To inform and educate Washingtonians on the issues that impact the well being of the traditional family and to coordinate and strengthen current advocacy efforts on behalf of families and allied organizations across the state.