Talk about closing the barn door after the horse is bolted and you’ve torched the barn. Protect Marriage Washington filed an emergency motion with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, asking the court to stay the October 17th order issued by Federal District Judge Benjamin Settle that as per the state’s Public Records Act, Washington’s Secretary of State must release to the public copies of the 2009 anti-gay Referendum 71 petition.
PMW, an organization affiliated with the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, claimed in court documents that if the petitions were made public, petition signatories would be subject to harassment. In a melodramatic flourish, PMW even insisted that the names of their plaintiffs be kept secret during court proceedings. Hence the name of the case, Doe v. Reed.
But here’s the kicker: several of the Doe plaintiffs have outed themselves to the public.
Gary Randall, spokesperson for PMW, broke confidentiality immediately after his deposition in September by referring to his role in the case on his blog. On 2 Sep 2011 in a blog post referencing the case he wrote
Larry Stickney, myself and others who have been deposed by the “team” on…a wide range of subjects unrelated, in our opinion, to the R-71 case, ….
On 11 Oct 2011 Randall wrote
This became very clear to me recently when I was summoned for a deposition in the Attorney General’s office regarding the sealing of the names of those who signed R-71 petitions.
On 20 Oct 2011 Randall wrote
There was another aspect that became evident during the R-71 depositions. It was the open hostility expressed by McKenna’s staff toward, not only myself…
And again on 22 Nov 2011 Randall wrote
A/G McKenna and Secretary Reed are showing no restraint in their attempt to release the names. My recent 4-hour deposition…
Stickney and Randall also co-authored a response to Judge Settle’s ruling which included “we” statements that could be understood to mean that Stickney and Randall were plaintiffs. For example Stickney wrote
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.
In response to Judge Settle’s ruling, another Doe plaintiff, Elizabeth Scott, posted a press release which was picked up by the Everett Herald. Scott also tweeted about her press release, linking to a Facebook post that is no longer accessible. Further, Scott engaged commenters in the Everett Herald article’s comments section.
In addition to grossly contradicting statements she made made during her deposition (which though redacted, can be discerned from Judge Settle’s ruling), Scott demonstrated the very sort of threatening behavior that the Doe plaintiffs purported to oppose, saying
With the County Sheriff and the State Attorney General failing to prosecute death threats, the 138,000 R71 signers are undoubtedly wondering whom they should call for protection under the law.
Scott added with a chuckle, “I guess when the First Amendment is eliminated, we drop back to the Second.”
Gary Randall reprinted Elizabeth Scott’s press release on his blog, and he included her phone number, something that the Everett Herald had redacted. He also mentions his own deposition again in that post.
A few days after Scott’s press release, Larry Stickney expressed appreciation in the comments section of a World Net Daily article mentioning Elizabeth Scott and quoting her press release. “Great article. Thank you for shedding some light on this major issue,” Stickney wrote. Randall also posted a link to the WND article in his 21 Oct 2011 blog post.
These actions by Doe plaintiffs indicate a sincere lack of concern for secrecy. Added to the fact that Judge Settle named the Doe plaintiffs in his ruling and the fact that the Secretary of State’s office promptly complied with the judge’s order and has already released 30 sets of Referendum 71 petition data, PMW’s emergency motion seems patently ridiculous.