By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a stay on a federal appeals court decision that would allow the release of the names of persons who signed a petition supporting a public referendum on a law giving homosexual couples the same rights and benefits of marriage in the state of Washington.
According to LifeSiteNews.com, the Supreme Court voted 8-1 on Monday to stay a lower court’s decision to allow Washington’s Secretary of State Sam Reed to release the names of the people who signed the petition that led to the placement of referendum R-71 on the November ballot. The only dissenting vote was cast by Justice John Paul Stevens.
The case was brought to the Court after a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California overturned a ruling by U.S. District Judge Ben Settle who said the names should not be released because First Amendment protections would be at stake and the state had failed to prove a compelling public interest that would mandate their release to the public.
LifeSite reports that militant homosexual activists associated with two web sites, WhoSigned.org and KnowThyNeighbor.org, vowed to use the state’s public disclosure law to create searchable databases on the internet of the signers’ names and addresses. While claiming they only want this information to dialogue with their neighbors about homosexual rights, the leader of one pro-marriage group, Larry Stickney, campaign manager for Protect Marriage Washington, said he and others advocates for marriage were being harassed.
Stickney claims that since filing the referendum, he and his family have come under direct personal attack and that other supporters and financial contributors to “Yes on R-71” had the same experiences.
Fearing a repeat of the dangerous harassment of citizens that occurred during the battle over same-sex marriage in California last year, Stickney’s organization took immediate steps to protect the names of signatories.
The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the new ruling will remain in force until justices have sufficient time to consider arguments from both sides.
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