Last month, ProtectMarriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) — the groups that supported the passage of Proposition 8 in California — lost their suit for exemption from California’s campaign finance disclosure laws. U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. ruled the groups’ “limited evidence is simply insufficient” to support their claim “that disclosure of contributors’ names will lead to threats, harassment or reprisals.”
In his opinion filed on Friday, England dismissed the groups’ efforts to compare themselves to such historically maligned organizations as the NAACP and ruled that only “small, persecuted groups whose very existence depended on some manner of anonymity”:
Plaintiffs do not, indeed cannot, allege that the movement to recognize marriage in California as existing only between a man and a woman is vulnerable to the same threats as were socialist and communist groups, or, for that matter, the NAACP. Proposition 8 supporters promoted a concept entirely devoid of governmental hostility. Plaintiffs’ belief in the traditional concept of marriage, to disagreement, have not historically invited animosity. The Court is at a loss to find any principled analogy between two such greatly diverging sets of circumstances.
Finally, Plaintiffs’ exemption argument appears to be premised, in large part, on the concept that individuals should be free from even legal consequences of their speech. That is simply not the nature of their right. Just as contributors to Proposition 8 are free to speak in favor of the initiative, so are opponents free to express their disagreement through proper legal means.
England argued that even if Protect<arriage and NOM fit into the historical circumstances of the NAACP, they “would need evidence of thousands of acts of reprisals, threats or harassment, spanning much more than the short period of time covering California’s ballot-initiative process to prove contributors to such a massive group are entitled to anonymity.” He added: “Plaintiffs’ contributors’ names were actually disclosed years ago and yet Plaintiffs have produced almost no evidence of any ramifications suffered in the almost three years post-disclosure.” “Accordingly, from a practical perspective, it makes no sense to buy in to the argument that disclosure may result in repercussions when there is simply no real evidence in the record that such repercussions actually did occur in the past three years. Plaintiffs’ evidence is, quite simply, stale.”
Read the full opinion here.