A federal court in Tacoma, Wash., has been asked to order that the names of signatories of a state petition seeking to protect traditional marriage be redacted to protect them from death threats from homosexual activists.
“What is becoming increasingly evident,” said James Bopp of the James Madison Center, “is that some groups and individuals, certainly a minority, have resorted to advancing their cause, not by debating the merits of the issue but by discouraging participation in the democratic process itself.
“The First Amendment was designed to ensure that all groups, whatever their persuasion, could participate fully in our republic,” he said. That breaks down when some groups or individuals are cowed into silence for fear that they or their families will be targeted or threatened if they speak up.”
The issue is the some 138,000 Washington state residents who signed a petition in 2009 to repeal a law that gave same-sex partners all the legal rights of married couples. The petition forced a referendum vote in November of that year in which voters decided to sustain the law.
But because the state considers such petitions “public records,” homosexual activists are demanding the names and addresses of the signers in order to post them on the Internet and “publicize on their web sites, in searchable format, the identities of every person who signed the … petition,” according to a new filing seeking nondisclosure of the names.
The groups announcing the plans were KnowThyNeighbor.org and WhoSigned.org, according to the filing.
The filing on behalf of Protect Marriage Washington explains the real problem is the documentation of actual threats that have been made against those who support traditional marriage, a litany of what the Los Angeles Times described as a “vengeful campaign.”
- “I will kill you and your family.”
- “Oh my God, This woman is so f—ing stupid. Someone please shoot her in the head, again and again. And again.”
- “I’m going to kill the pastor.”
- “If I had a gun I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter…”
- “We’re going to kill you.”
- “You’re dead. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon … you’re dead.”
- “I’m a gay guy who owns guns, and he’s my next target.”
- “I warn you, I know how to kill, I’m an ex-special forces person.”
- “Get ready for retribution all you bigots.”
- Burn their f—ing churches to the ground, and then tax the charred timbers.”
The evidence included churches marred by graffiti, swastikas on lawns and walls, bricks thrown through windows and doors, adhesive poured into locks, suspicious packages of white powder sent in the mail – “all for nothing more than supporting traditional marriage.”
“On two occasions, both in Washington state, a group called Bash Back! boldly accepted credit for vandalizing houses of worship, writing in one case, ‘when we [graffitied your walls] and glued all the doors shut, we threw open our own doors and tattooed those words on hour (sic) hearts. Welcome to our world s—heads.’”
According to the filing, “When some activists could sense that intimidation was not working … they resorted to threatening the families – even the children – of supporters. In one case, the perpetrator threated to ‘kill’ the supporter’s child and the whole family; in another, to ‘harm’ the supporter’s family; and in another, to rape the supporters’ daughter.”
The reason for the demand for the names and addresses was made clear earlier, according to the filing.
“In an obvious attempt to dissuade people from signing the … petition, two homosexual advocacy groups – Massachusetts-based KnowThyNeighbor.org and Washington-based WhoSigned.org – announced their intentions to obtain the identities of every person who signed the petition; to publicly expose the persons on their respective web sites; and to make their web sites ‘accessible and searchable.’
“Dave Ammons, communications director for Defendant Sam Reed, posted a blog entry on the Secretary of State’s web site explaining that the alleged reason for wanting to publicly expose … petition signers was to get ‘voters to think twice about signing’ … and to allow opponents to ‘be able to talk with their neighbors and townspeople who signed to explain the ramifications.’”
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 earlier told WND.
When the court case originated, a judge ruled in favor of the signers’ privacy, but the ruling was overturned by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court then said that the petitions are open records in general but did not determine the specifics of this controversy.
The current request is for a federal court ruling that instructs Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed not to publish the names and addresses.
According to a statement from Bopp, “The question is, Why do they want them? Not only is it unclear what purpose it would serve to release the names at this point, there is also a very good reason not to release them. Together with its briefing to the court, Protect Marriage Washington presented hundreds of pages of documented examples of threats and reprisals directed at supporters of traditional marriage, not only in Washington but across the country. The evidence includes 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.”
The federal court filing said, “The evidence compiled is overwhelming in demonstrating a ‘pattern of threats’ and ‘specific manifestations of public hostility’ … against those who have, often out of a sense of religious conviction, voiced opposition to the homosexual movement. At their core, however, these reprisals are ‘not so much anti-religions as anti-democratic.’”
“When dialogue and disagreement degenerate into the thuggery of intimidation and retaliation, civility is lost, and with it our liberties,” it warned.