Washington state elections officials have just “halted the release of names of voters that signed the Referendum 71 petitions on domestic partnership rights in 2009” after “lawyers for Protect Marriage Washington filed an emergency motion Thursday in the 9th Circuit federal court to appeal a judge’s order on Monday that released the signatures.” The Secretary of State had so far released copies of 137,000 signers’ signatures, but pledged to “suspend further release until the court considers the emergency motion on Monday.”
Opponents of same-sex marriage claim the “threat of harassment should qualify them for an exception to the state Public Records Act,” an argument which federal Judge Benjamin Settle rejected in Monday’s ruling. “Plaintiffs have not shown serious and widespread threats, harassment, or reprisals against the signers of R-71, or even that such activity would be reasonably likely to occur upon the publication of their names and contact information,” Settle found.
The decision is a major setback for anti-gay advocates. As the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) Brian Brown admitted in an email to supporters Friday afternoon, “The lawsuit…may have failed for now.” “Please pray for each of the 137,500 and for the people who disagree with their views.” NOM and other proponents of Proposition 8 lost a similar suit in California yesterday. U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. ruled the groups had to comply with all disclosure laws, including listing any donor who gives $100 or more in any future campaigns.