A federal judge on Thursday denied a request from groups representing individuals who made financial contributions to the effort to defend California’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, saying all past and future campaign finance records must be made public.
In California, anyone contributing more than $100 to a cause is listed in public record; the case sought to erase the names of Proposition 8 donors from the record, as well as shield all future contributors. ProtectMarriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage filed the lawsuit nearly three years ago, after backers of the amendment were targeted by vandals and gay activists who waged a war of intimidation against them, urging people to boycott their businesses and even threatening their families.
“The (donors’ personal) information was not only listed on numerous websites, with people’s addresses, but was ‘Map Quested’ on one site so you could go straight to people’s houses and vandalize them,” in 2008, noted Jim Bopp, one of the attorneys on the case. “We are certainly going to pursue the case vigorously, because the result of the judge’s decision is going to literally be a free-fire zone when we talk about the court sanctioning harassment of people who participate in our democratic process.”
U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr., who plans to follow up with a written opinion soon, ruled from the bench Thursday after a similar decision was handed down by a federal judge in Washington State last week.
There, people who signed petitions supporting Ref. 71 to repeal a same-sex civil unions law who faced harassment were told their evidence failed to show “serious and widespread threats … or reprisals” would be likely, so the state had no reason to keep their personal information hidden — despite the fact that gay activists have already vowed to publicize it on websites like Whosigned.org and Knowthyneighbor.org. In the opinion, the judge acknowledged the marriage defenders had shown “substantial evidence” of harassment in other parts of the country, just not enough to clear the legal hurdle in Washington.
“The Washington court was, in our view, wrong on literally every aspect of the legal analysis,” Bopp said, “in such a way that it would be utterly impossible for anyone ever to get court protection, no matter how much organized violence was committed by a group.”
Bopp has already appealed the Ref. 71 case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and will do the same with the Prop. 8 case once that opinion becomes available.
“Absent the prospect of protection in future cases, I think the whole idea here by the homosexual lobby is they now have a threat,” he said. “They announced months before the (Washington) petitions were submitted that they were going to seek those names and put them on the Internet. So they already know they’ve got a weapon of intimidation, and without the courts’ protection, they’ll continue to use it.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read The Heritage Foundation’s summary of harassment after California approved Prop. 8.
Watch a clip about the Prop. 8 backlash from “The O’Reilly Factor” in 2008.
Read more about the same-sex marriage bill currently pending in Washington.
Find out what free speech can cost you these days — and why.