If the names and personal information of the voters who signed the R-71 petition are released and published on the Internet, they will be subjected to torment and intimidation by homosexual activists from all corners of the globe. — CWA press release, March 5, 2010
Would you sign a petition if it meant you risked receiving death threats, losing your job, or having your home vandalized?That is what voters in Washington state fear. — CWA press release, April 9, 2010
Protect Marriage Washington and their allies like Concerned Women for America have been conjuring phantom Scary Gays and feigning victimhood in their effort to undermine the nation’s open government laws. PMW’s attorney tried mightily in court briefs, press statements and U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments to turn expressions of disagreement from political opponents into alleged harassment and intimidation, and use that false equivalency as a basis for keeping secret the identity of political petitions signers.
The game seemed to change, however, with Wednesday’s hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court of PMW’s Doe v. Reed challenge to the constitutionality of Washington’s Public Records Act. In short, few of the justices seemed to buy PMW’s Scary Gays ploy.
What’s an anti-LGBT organization do when it expects to lose in court and realizes that by crying wolf it may scare off its supporters from involvement in future ballot measure campaigns?Protect Marriage Washington has remained quiet since the Supreme Court hearing, undoubtedly under the advice of their attorneys. They might as well keep their heads low since they have no programs in play besides their troubled lawsuit. But Concerned Women for America is a national organization with more at stake than an amicus brief and a failed referendum campaign. They wasted no time starting to shift focus from Scary Gays to the Brave Patriot Martyr.
Wendy Wright, CWA president: …”But Justice Scalia – this was a big surprise for me, his skepticism on this argument. But it’s making me think that in fact he’s thrown down the gauntlet for many of us who want to protect the privacy of those who are afraid of being intimidated. He said, and this is the quote that’s gonna make it in all the news items when we hear about this case, he said ‘Running a democracy takes a certain amount of civic courage’.
“Well, I think in a sense he is right. And if we lose this case I think that’s the gauntlet thrown down to each one of us. Are we up to it? Are we willing to do what is right? Are we willing to put a name on a paper that clearly states a biblical viewpoint like being in favor of marriage even if we know we could face intimidation and harassment for it.
“When I wrote an article and did one of these multi-media commentaries regarding our amicus brief that was titled ‘Secret Ballot, Secret Petitions’, I began it by saying, would you be willing to sign your name on a petition if it meant you could face death threats, intimidation, losing your job?
“And Mario Diaz, our director of legal policy here at CWA responded and said yes, that he would be willing to sign his name onto something if he was intimidated. And I thought, he’s right, he’s right. We need to be willing to stand up and put our name on a paper. We’re willing – we need to be willing to stand up and speak out for what is right, even if there are consequences to doing that.
Martha Kleder, CWA policy analyst: “And we will not be the first Americans to do that. I mean, the first thing you can think of is the Declaration of Independence and John Hancock‘s bold statement bold statement of signing it in such large script for the king to see even without his glasses.
Wendy Wright: “That’s right, and they knew that they were facing death for signing their names to what was considered a document of treason. And we may be facing some death threats – thankfully we don’t know of anyone who’s actually been killed in current day for protecting marriage. So we’re at least not facing what the founding fathers did. But even if we were, I guess that’s the question we need to ask ourselves: are we willing to stand up for these biblical beliefs regardless of the consequences?
Martha Kleder: “And that is a question we must ask ourselves very seriously because there are so many social issues that are controversial, that are very emotional, that are coming to the courts. The pro-life issue, the issue of marriage as we’re discussion here. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of others. Thank you so much Wendy.
Wendy Wright: “Thank you Martha.”
So did you get that? They’ve shifted their rhetoric from “they will be subjected to torment and intimidation by homosexual activists from all corners of the globe” to “are we willing to stand up for these biblical beliefs regardless of the consequences?…John Hancock…we don’t know of anyone who’s actually been killed in current day for protecting marriage.”
As we know, fear-mongering is the stock in trade for anti-LGBT organizations like CWA and Protect Marriage Washington. It’ll be amusing to watch them try to thread the needle of trying to keep the sheeple afraid, but not too afraid.
Bill Wixey: Washington Attorney General Rob Mckenna will go before the Supreme Court on Wednesday to argue one of the biggest cases of his career. It centers around Referendum 71. But as James Lynch tells us, this case goes way beyond gay rights, and could impact every state in the country.
James Lynch: What started as a debate over “everything but marriage” for gay and lesbian couples here in Washington will end before the United States Supreme Court in a case involving free speech and public records.
Anne Levinson: What these folks are trying to do is drive a truck through the Public Records Act.
James Lynch: At issue, should the names of some 138,000 people who signed Referendum 71 petitions be released under the state’s public disclosure law? Or, was their signing Constitutionally protected political speech, which can be anonymous?
Bob Struble: Half the states have initiatives and referendums, and if these can be compromised by threats and harassment, why it undermines the entire democratic process.
James Lynch: Bob Struble is a spokesman for Protect Marriage Washington. He himself signed the Referendum 71 petition. He says his group opposes the release of the names for this reason: fear of those who support marriage rights for all.
Struble: These people, I think it’s not an exaggeration to use the word vicious. They are sometimes vicious because we dare to oppose their agenda of mainstreaming sodomy, which is what it is.
James Lynch: Struble says he himself has known harassment first-hand while gathering petition signatures.
Bob Struble: Some shrieking self-proclaiming homosexuals started stalking me and raising quite the commotion and screaming and demanding that I stop handing out these petitions.
James Lynch: The threat of that kind of harassment, Struble says, deters people from signing petitions, so the names should not be made public.
Ann Levinson: We’ve had more than 600,000 individuals sign petitions in the last decade in this state. There’s not been evidence of a single person who’s in any way been chilled or in any way discouraged from signing a petition out of an alleged fear of harassment. There’s simply no evidence to that point.
James Lynch: Anne Levinson is with Washington Families Standing Together. Her group wants the names released.
Anne Levinson: In our state we have a requirement, as does every other state except one that has public disclosure laws that initiatives and referenda are public records. And they are released to the public so that the public can help insure that elections happen fairly.
James Lynch: Levinson says that opponents of expanded domestic partnership rights have an agenda.
Anne Levinson: They’ve used ballot campaigns – referenda and initiatives – to try to take away other people’s rights, and they’d like to do that in secret. They’d like to hide who their contributors are, they’d like to hide who their signators are and they’d like to hide who their sponsors are. And, that’s not the way we operate in a democracy.
James Lynch: The high court has at times been receptive to arguments based on the fear of harassment and retaliation. In this case the justices will have to balance the public’s right to privacy and the public’s right to know. James Lynch, Q 13, Fox News.
Bill Wixey: Now a ruling on this case could take a few months, and this isn’t the first time McKenna has gone before the high court. He’s two for two there. The court sided with him when he defended an initiative involving teacher union dues, as well as the state’s top-2 primary.
* Justice Scalia: “Democracy requires a certain amount of civic courage.”
* Protect Marriage Washington impugns WA Secretary of State on eve of SCOTUS hearing
* Conservatives and progressives unite to defend Open Government
* I, Citizen Legislator
* Gary Randall makes puzzling claims about the Doe v. Reed lawsuit
* Challenge to Washington’s Public Records Act to get hearing by USSC