A federal judge today ordered Washington state not to release the names and addresses of people who signed petitions in support of traditional marriage until their right to privacy – and threats of harassment against them – can be explored fully by the court.

The word comes from James Bopp Jr., lead counsel for Protect Marriage Washington, which unsuccessfully sought to reverse the state legislature’s decision to grant homosexual duos “everything but marriage” by statute.

Bopp, of the James Madison Center, told WND earlier in the course of the case involving Protect Marriage Washington that he has documented threats and harassment against some of the 138,000 who signed Referendum 71 before the 2008 election.

Homosexual promoters have stated publicly they want to post the personal contact information on the Internet so that activists can find them for “uncomfortable conversations.”

“We’ve got affidavits from more than 60 people who were targeted, harassed. There are newspaper reports of more cases. This seems to be a concerted campaign … to attack and stifle the opposition through harassment,” Bopp told WND.

When the same situation has developed in other states, there have been reports of property damage, death threats and other harassment aimed at supporters of traditional marriage.

When the hotly contested Proposition 8 was on the ballot in California that same year, hate messages were painted on a sport utility vehicle in front of a Mormon family’s home after Mormon interests supported the constitutional amendment that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman only.

In that dispute, besides the physical violence demonstrated against some marriage supporters, other attacks were online. A blog commentator known as “World O Jeff” wrote, “Burn their f—ing churches to the ground, and then tax the charred timbers.”

Another contributor to the website said, “I supported the Vote No, and was vocal to everyone and anyone who would listen, [but] I have never considered being a violent radical extremist for our equal rights. But now I think maybe I should consider becoming one.”

Added another at the time of the California fight, “I swear, I’d murder people with my bare hands this morning.”

Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs for Liberty Counsel, at the time called the statements “hate crimes” for their intent to create violence against someone based on their beliefs.

“This is not just a matter of some people blowing off steam because they’re not happy with a political outcome. This is criminal activity,” he said. “The homosexual lobby is always calling for ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’ and playing the role of victim. They claim to deplore violence and ‘hate.’ Here we have homosexuals inciting, and directly threatening, violence against Christians.”

Two other comments from another homosexual website: “Can someone in CA please go burn down the Mormon temples there, PLEASE. I mean seriously. DO IT” and “I’m going to give them something to be f—ing scared of. … I’m a radical who is now on a mission to make them all pay for what they’ve done.”

And another: “Remember, I’m angry. And I’m strong from my years at the gym and really am ready to take my frustration out on someone or something.”

Yet another listed the addresses of Mormon facilities: “I do not openly advocate firebombing or vandalism. What you do with the information is your own choice.”

WND also has reported homosexual activists in Maine targeted churches with IRS complaints.

Protect Marriage Washington had obtained a district-court ruling last year preventing the release of the names and addresses, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that, holding that disclosure of referendum petitions generally does not violate the Constitution. However, the court returned the case to Washington for the judge to consider whether disclosure of petition signers could be unconstitutional in light of the widespread harassment to which they would be subjected.

“Supporters of traditional marriage have received death threats and have had their personal property destroyed after standing up to protect the institution of marriage. No one should have to endure the harassment that these individuals have endured in their personal and professional lives for standing up for what they believe in,” Bopp said earlier. “I am confident that when the judge considers all the evidence, copies of the petitions will not be released to the public.”

The ruling will remain in effect until the court considers the arguments.

Bopp noted that in the California battle, traditional-marriage supporters even were targeted on websites that posted maps directing people to their homes.

“Some of the same people that did that in California were the ones who wanted the petition signatures and addresses in Washington,” Bopp said. “They were quite open they were going to post these on the Internet.”

He said the “technique” of intimidation has been effective, causing supporters of traditional marriage to abandon their support.

The district judge hearing the case had ruled in favor of the First Amendment privacy of petition signers, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned it, despite evidence from California’s fight.

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