The National Organization for Marriage and other organizations who came together in 2008 to defeat marriage equality in California was just handed a stunning loss by a federal court:
Supporters of the 2008 ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage in California have lost a lawsuit that sought to block their past and future campaign finance records from public view.
A federal judge in Sacramento on Thursday ruled against ProtectMarriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage, saying the two groups failed to prove they should be exempted from the state’s campaign disclosure laws.
Mollie Lee, a lawyer in the San Francisco City Attorney’s office, says U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. ruled from the bench after a brief hearing and plans to issue a written opinion later.
The two groups, which sponsored and helped finance the gay marriage ban known as Proposition 8, filed the lawsuit in January 2009, claiming their donors were harassed after their names appeared on the Secretary of State’s web site.
This loss come days after NOM lost a court case in Washington State. In that particular case, NOM sought not to disclose the names of 137,500 people who two years ago signed Referendum 71 petitions to bring the state’s domestic-partnership law to a vote.
However in this case, it was the defense used by NOM and its allies in the attempt to keep their donor list secret which should raise some eyebrows.
According to The Sacramento Bee:
Joe La Rue, a lawyer for the group (Protect Marriage.com), said in oral arguments today that those donors would remain exposed to harassment “so long as these names are perpetually kept on the state’s website.”
. . . California law requires the disclosure of the identity of anyone who contributes $100 or more to a campaign. ProtectMarriage.com said the $100 limit was too low, and it claimed it qualified for an exception to disclosure laws once granted by the U.S. Supreme Court to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Socialist Workers Party.
The article goes on to say that the judge presiding over the case, U.S. District Judge Morris England, Jr. was very skeptical about this. He pointed out that the Socialist Workers Party didn’t involve that many people and in the case of the NAACP, keeping its donors’ identities secret was done to keep people from being murdered.
England’s skepticism probably had to do with the evidence given to him by ProtectMarriage.com as “proof” of harassment:
The judge read from a batch of declarations in which people claimed yard signs were stolen, that they received harassing phone calls, or, in one case, that people protested outside someone’s business. “That’s the extent of what happened,” he said.
The article goes on to say even in the face of England’s skepticism, ProtectMarriage.com’s lawyer continued to push the comparison, even bringing up segregation and “Jim Crow” laws.
So in the world of NOM, someone protesting your business or stealing your yard sign is the equivalent of getting shot to death in your front yard (Medgar Evers) or being beaten half bloody (Fannie Lou Hamer).
The irony of NOM’s defense is stark when one takes into account how in New York, Maryland, and North Carolina, the organization used black pastors to claim the gay community is trying to “piggyback” on the struggles of African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement.
It definitely proves that in this fight over marriage equality, there is exploitation of the Civil Rights Movement and the African-American community in general.
But it’s not coming from the gay community.