Backers of Referendum 71, a Washington measure seeking to protect traditional marriage in the state, say that Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to block the internet publication of petition signers will protect them from the harassment that targeted supporters of California’s Proposition 8.
By an 8-1 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked Washington state officials while it decides whether to take up the request by Protect Marriage Washington, which is appealing a decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice John Paul Stevens was the only member of the court who voted to turn down the stay request.
Referendum 71 asks voters to approve or reject what some call the “everything but marriage” law, which grants registered domestic partners the same legal rights as married couples. Most domestic partners are homosexual couples, but opposite-sex seniors can also register as domestic partners.
Backers of the referendum say they fear harassment from homosexual rights supporters, some of whom have pledged to post the names of petition signers on the internet.
According to the Associated Press, Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed said the state respects the fact that opponents of disclosure are getting their full day in court. He also said his agency will do its “very best” to uphold voters’ desire for “transparent and accountable government.”
In a Tuesday press release from Protect Marriage Washington, the organization’s lead counsel James Bopp, Jr. said the Supreme Court took a “large step forward” in protecting the free speech of citizens who support a traditional definition of marriage.
“No citizen should ever have their personal property destroyed or receive death threats for exercising their right to engage in the political process. The First Amendment protects citizens from government compelled disclosure of their identity when they are engaged in political speech.”
Bopp added that the Supreme Court appears to recognize the “gravity” of the situation and said Protect Marriage Washington looks forward to the court’s review of the appeal.