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The Supreme Court’s Ambiguous Ruling in Doe v. Reed

Press Right-wing Trial analysis

by Robert Cruickshank

As we await the decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger from Judge Vaughn Walker – in a case we expect to make it to the US Supreme Court – the Supreme Court has today issued a ruling in another marriage equality case that has many implications for the fight here in California.

You might recall that in 2009, the state of Washington (where I lived from 2001 to 2007) passed a law providing domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples, as part of the LGBT equality movement’s strategy to slowly but steadily eliminate the state’s barriers to full equality. Almost immediately after Governor Christine Gregoire signed the bill, anti-gay groups organized a petition drive to have the law placed before voters as a referendum. They barely succeeded in gathering the signatures, but Washington voters approved the referendum, known as R-71, upholding the domestic partnership law at the November 2009 election.

In Washington, as in California, the names of those that sign a ballot initiative petition are a matter of public record. This has been the case for nearly 100 years, and flows from the basic legal principle that for the public to have trust in the system – whether it’s the legal system or the electoral system – there must be public disclosure. In this case, that means disclosing the names of those who signed the petitions.

However, the anti-gay groups did not want these names to be disclosed, as part of a broader strategy to hide their names and intentions from the public – a strategy that we have seen repeatedly in the Prop 8 trial, from the successful effort to keep cameras from the courtroom to the effort to suppress unfavorable testimony. The anti-gay groups in Washington, led by Protect Marriage Washington, sued the Secretary of State, Sam Reed, on behalf of the petition signers to block disclosure. Since some of the signers wished to remain anonymous, the case was filed on behalf of a John Doe – hence the name of the case, Doe v. Reed.

Last year a US federal judge in Tacoma agreed with the anti-gay groups and agreed to block the release of the names of the petition signers. The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals – the same court that will hear the inevitable appeal of the Perry v. Schwarzenegger decision – overturned that decision, and Protect Marriage Washington appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in the Doe v. Reed case in April 2010.

Today the Supreme Court issued a complicated ruling in the case. In an 8-1 ruling, the Court held that generally these petitions ARE subject to public disclosure, and that there is no presumption that the petition signatures can be private. However, the court also ruled that it is possible for disclosure to be prevented if plaintiffs could prove that they would suffer specific harm as a result of disclosure. And most importantly, the court did NOT decide whether the R-71 petitions in particular could be disclosed or not, remanding that to a lower court.

The ambiguity of the decision was compounded by the fact that there were no less than seven different opinions written by the justices in this case. Some of them were more favorable and some of them gave a reed of hope to Protect Marriage Washington in their effort to block the disclosure of the names. Over at Daily Kos Adam Bonin has a good overview of these opinions, which I’ll summarize here.

The main decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts and signed by Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor, was very strong in its defense of the principle of public access and political disclosure:

The State’s interest is particularly strong with respect to efforts to root out fraud, which not only may produce fraudulent outcomes, but has a systemic effect as well: It “drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government.”

Of course, we at the Courage Campaign said much the same thing in our letter to Judge Walker asking him to televise the trial, a letter that over 140,000 people signed and was cited by Justice Breyer in his dissent against the January 2010 SCOTUS ruling barring cameras from the Prop 8 trial. It’s unfortunate that Chief Justice Roberts has been inconsistent in his application of the public’s right to know, but at least here in Doe v. Reed he understood the need to err on the side of disclosure.

When it comes to the issue of when disclosure can be blocked – as it was, for example, in the 1950s when the state of Alabama sued to get the membership list of the NAACP – Chief Justice Roberts argued that disclosure could be blocked:

if there were a reasonable probability that the group’s members would face threats, harassment, or reprisals if their names were disclosed.

However, Breyer and retiring Justice John Paul Stevens (Doe v. Reed was his last case on the Supreme Court) argued that was too broad a formulation:

I would demand strong evidence before concluding that an indirect and speculative chain of events imposes a substantial burden on speech. A statute “is not to be upset upon hypothetical and unreal possibilities, if it would be good upon the facts as they are.”

And of all people, right-wing Justice Antonin Scalia wrote strongly in favor of the need for disclosure, and slammed the argument that somehow it is undemocratic to make petition signatures public:

And it may even be a bad idea to keep petition signatures secret. There are laws against threats and intimidation; and harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is a price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self-governance. Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed. For my part, I do not look forward to a society which, thanks to the Supreme Court, campaigns anonymously (McIntyre) and even exercises the direct democracy of initiative and referendum hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave.

Given this strong defense of disclosure by the majority of the Supreme Court, it is unfortunate that they did not rule on the R-71 disclosures themselves. We must hope that the federal court in Washington State will rule in favor of disclosure.

Washington Families Standing Together, the organization that pushed for the domestic partner law and won the fight to approve R-71 on the November 2009 ballot, had this to say about the ruling:

With regard to the assertion by the anti-gay groups that they would be harmed if petition signatures were subject to public disclosure … the Supreme Court has in the past allowed exemptions to public disclosure where there’s a clear minority party that has suffered both official and societal retaliation by the majority such that disclosure presents a very real threat. With regard to Referendum 71, however, the groups making this claim were not the minority, but to the contrary, were the ones trying to diminish the rights of the minority. They will be hard pressed to convince a judge the record here is otherwise.

WFST also reminded us that there has so far been no evidence of harassment of anyone who signed the petitions, indicating there is no legal basis to deny disclosure even according to today’s Supreme Court ruling:

In an amicus brief provided to the Supreme Court in Doe v. Reed, a group of political scientists reported that not only was the assertion of alleged harassment unsubstantiated in Washington State, but the plaintiffs did not present a single verified threat to any signer of a ballot measure petition in any state in any election. As their brief said, “More than a million names of signers of petitions for referenda and initiatives opposing gay marriage have been posted on the Internet, yet there is no evidence that any of these signers has faced any threat of retaliation or harassment by reason of that disclosure.”

We can expect the anti-gay groups to make such a claim and continue fighting to block public disclosure of petition signers’ names. It’s important to remember why they want to block that disclosure – and why they wanted to keep cameras out of the courtroom, why they tried to undermine California’s own disclosure laws to hide the names of donors to Prop 8.

The reason is simple: Because it helps them politically. By claiming that they would somehow be harmed by public scrutiny and disclosure, Prop 8 supporters are reinforcing a narrative of victimhood that serves their broader agenda of painting marriage equality supporters as the bad guys. They also are able to keep their true feelings hidden, as their radicalism is masked by vague and reassuring images of smiling people protecting children and families from some existential threat that is supposedly inherent in same-sex marriages.

Conservatives have for decades cultivated a politics of victimhood – presenting themselves as victims of some group, usually liberal and often an oppressed minority, in order to gain sympathy for their insane beliefs and to delegitimize progressive ideas and actions. The result is a massive distortion of the true effects of Prop 8, and the normalization of support for discriminatory policy.

In other words, what we’re witnessing in America right now is a broad right-wing effort to hide the truth from the public so that voters can be more easily manipulated to embrace right-wing and/or corporate-friendly policies that voters might otherwise reject. It is an insult to our democracy and to our intelligence.

Ultimately, the desire to prevent public disclosure is very deeply linked to the desire to block same-sex marriage. Those who oppose marriage equality want to make it safe in this country to discriminate against LGBT people. They understand that overt statements of dislike of LGBT people don’t fly in California, so they have to hide it, whether it’s in their deceptive campaigning, their push for a closed courtroom, or their efforts to hide their names from mandatory disclosure.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is ambiguous. But in one way it is quite clear: that disclosure and public access is essential to our democracy. That flies directly in the face of what the anti-gay groups have been arguing. In that sense, the Supreme Court has given us an important victory, even as we wait to see what happens with the R-71 signatures.


  • 1. Richard A. Walter (s  |  June 24, 2010 at 4:36 am

    What we are seeing is the right wing trying to return to the tactics of the KKK, only this time, they are gunning for the one group left that it is still politically okay to attack–the LGBTQQIA community. Yes, they will even attack our allies here. Just look at the posts by JoeyDG on the comment thread "This really Bothers Me."

  • 2. fiona64  |  June 24, 2010 at 4:37 am

    I was not exaggerating when I talked about the rather bulky Mormon teen who threatened me with bodily harm when I refused to take down my "No on 8" lawn sign — in my own yard!

    I keep a loaded weapon available because of people like that. I can only *imagine* what it must be like for my GLBT friends.


  • 3. Richard A. Walter (s  |  June 24, 2010 at 4:39 am

    And how many of his minions were piled into the broken down Buick?

  • 4. Robert Cruickshank  |  June 24, 2010 at 4:48 am

    The crazy thing is that the anti-gay groups pass themselves off as the victims anytime the people they victimize speak up against discrimination. It's an especially insidious move on their part, denying the truth about who suffers from anti-gay discrimination while at the same time excusing their own discriminatory actions.

  • 5. Ronnie  |  June 24, 2010 at 4:51 am

    "Human beings are so made that the ones who do the crushing feel nothing; it is the person crushed who feels what is happening. Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand." ~Simone Well


  • 6. fiona64  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Richard, surprisingly enough he came to the door on his own. He first wanted to know if I was married to "that fencer guy" (Jeff), and to tell me that he had sold us our Christmas tree the past couple of years.

    He then loomed over me and said "I'm here today to tell you to take that sign off your lawn."

    I told him no.

    He assumed an even more threatening posture and proceeded to try to tell me what would happen if I didn't.

    I looked him dead in the eye, gave him an education about the Constitution, and told him that he ever came back to our home to sell Christmas trees, or for any other purpose, that he would find himself facing the business end of a 32 caliber pistol.

    I doubt he would have tried that if Jeff had answered the door; I guess he thought that since he was a beefy teenaged boy and I'm a short middle-aged woman that I would be appropriately intimidated — to say nothing of how women are expected to kowtow in the LDS faith. ::ahem::

    "Religious bigot trespassers are not welcome here."

    (Mind you, there is a nice African-American lady who comes by with tracts and her Bible now and again. She gives me some literature, we pray for a moment, and she is on her way. Completely different.)


  • 7. Richard A. Walter (s  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Yes, Fiona, it is very surprising that he came on his own and unaccompanied. That is not the usual tactic of a bully; they always seem to need their buddies to help them when they get themselves into a difficult situation. Here at our house, those who do not want to play by the rules will quickly find themselves looking at the business end of Mr. Browning, and if BZ isn't here, they will find out how I explain "Pot meet Kettle," via any necessary cast iron skillet counseling. Or maybe finding out what the headlights felt like after Louisville got done with them. I am only nice when I am allowed to be. When you tread on me, or threaten to harm any of my family, I can and often do turn saber tooth tiger nasty.

  • 8. Monty  |  June 24, 2010 at 7:11 am

    I agree with you mostly, but I'd add that it's also perfectly acceptable to attack atheists. In fact, there's quite a few parallels between the two groups. Not that I don't appreciate our religious allies, of course.

  • 9. omini  |  June 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Sorry, but could you please clarify? Do you mean that atheists are similar to extreme religious folk because they go to people's homes and threaten them over yard signs? Or they are similar to the gay community because theyre an invisible minority that is hated by religious fanatics? Im an athist myself, and I would never threaten a family because of a sign in their yard. Thats just absurd. Im actually a fervent pacifist who would never dream of harming anyone. This is pretty common with all the other atheists i know or have met. So could you please clarify as to why it would be ok to attack atheists such as myself?


  • 10. Monty  |  June 28, 2010 at 6:28 am

    The latter. I suppose it was a bit ambiguous; I meant that society considers it acceptable, not that I think it actually is.

  • 11. Ronnie  |  June 24, 2010 at 4:49 am

    "They also are able to keep their true feelings hidden, as their radicalism is masked by vague and reassuring images of smiling people protecting children and families from some existential threat that is supposedly inherent in same-sex marriages."

    "Conservatives have for decades cultivated a politics of victimhood – presenting themselves as victims of some group, usually liberal and often an oppressed minority, in order to gain sympathy for their insane beliefs and to delegitimize progressive ideas and actions. The result is a massive distortion of the true effects of Prop 8, and the normalization of support for discriminatory policy."

    Two VERY STRONG statements and nails them to dart board exactly at bullseye…..STANDING O!!!!!…..<3…Ronnie

  • 12. Vaati  |  June 24, 2010 at 4:53 am

    It's very strange where we stand right now, we have this ongoing issue of being pushed down as the LGBTQQIA community, we have the BP oil spill going on now, and immigration has been brought back up because of the new law in Arizona. The US is very precariously balanced right now, it feels like we are on the very edge of calamity and yet there is still hope from paying attention to things like this.

    Pretty sure I don't like the ambiguity of their 'show me something and I'll think about it' attitude, but at least they still understand that we cannot have our government run by anonymous fear mongers. Our future is unclear but at least with this issue we seem to be progressing forward.

  • 13. Felyx  |  June 24, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I am glad Vaati mentioned the other political issues occurring as I would add something here….

    Now is an excellent time to capitalize on the current issues and point out how these issues need to be addressed and how resolving gay discrimination issues rapidly and proactively will allow more energy to be focused on relevant pressing topics. I say that we do not benefit ourselves or society by saying, 'Ok, we will wait until this gets fixed first.' On the contrary, we should yell now even louder and press the issue like never before! Many less favored issues get more rapidly resolved in times of crisis. 'Now' is always the time to make things right but NOW really is an excellent time to make this happen! Let us force the issues to resolution so that other truly more important issues can get our full attention.


  • 14. Vaati  |  June 24, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Excellent point, we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted and only take it one at a time, keep your voice loud and clear. We don't have time or energy to waste on fighting one another over something as basic as companionship and who to love when the Gulf coast is being destroyed and we have other major issues breathing down our necks.

    If hating us is all NOM and other anti-gay organizations have to offer they will soon become obsolete and will be discarded, they don't seem to do any true good. Does any of their money go to struggling married couples and families? Does any of it go to funding family classes or counseling so they don't fall apart? I somehow doubt it.

  • 15. Mouse  |  June 24, 2010 at 5:01 am

    "Don't you dare bite my foot while I'm kicking you!! See? I'm the victim, here. He BIT ME! That proves he deserves to be kicked"

    I don't know what's worse, that the H8 folks use this logic, or that it actually works to trick people into sympathizing with them.

  • 16. Kathleen  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:55 am

    Perfect, illustrative image, Mouse!

  • 17. Alan E.  |  June 24, 2010 at 5:14 am

    Hey everyone, I put together this video with clips from the reenacted closing arguments of the Prop 8 trial. This shows how many times Charles Cooper said "procreation" (or some variant). Watch the video to see how high the count goes, plus Ted Olsen shooting down the argument.

    [youtube =]

  • 18. bJason  |  June 24, 2010 at 5:29 am

    LOVE IT!!!

    ROTFLMAO by 35!

  • 19. cc  |  June 24, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Oh goodness, I am glad I wasn't playing that drinking game on Weds or else I would have been trashed!

  • 20. Bolt  |  June 24, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Very funny. These actors are excellent. Does V. Walker have a deep voice like this actor judge?

  • 21. Alan E.  |  June 24, 2010 at 9:20 am

    This actor does sound a lot like the real Judge Walker (I tend to slip and say Judge Wapner from time to time).

  • 22. Richard A. Walter (s  |  June 24, 2010 at 9:24 am

    I did happen to notice that the actor playing Cooper has more hair than the real Charles Cooper, and is wearing it in a better style. However, I would have cast their Ted Olson as David Boies, based on appearance.

  • 23. Kathleen  |  June 24, 2010 at 9:30 am

    The actor playing Boies doesn't look much like him, but sure sounds like him!

  • 24. bJason  |  June 24, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Great analysis, Robert.

    I jumped the gun on the last thread. I just finished reading the decision. I will miss Stevens! Scalia, who'd 'a thunk it? It seems t me that a couple of the Justices are all but saying "Bring the "Count I" argument back to us and we'll rule against disclosure for you". I would wager that that decision will be 5-4. But given Scalia's slam, it could really go either way.

    Fingers crossed!

  • 25. JonT  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:22 am


  • 26. Mark M.  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:22 am

    And the fun just never ends with the H8ers

  • 27. JonT  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:29 am

    Ahh, another fine missive from Porno Pete.

    I like the scare quotes around "Gay", and the equation of gay == bestiality == nambla.

    To be honest, I've never even heard of "‘Gay’ Icon Frank Kameny", guess I'm way out of touch. Porno Pete has some issues, that's for sure 🙂

  • 28. Richard A. Walter (s  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Well, what else can you expect from "Porno Pete" anyway? And I find it downright hilarious that someone who claims he is NOT gay knows more about us (supposedly) than we do. I guess he thinks he is so smart. Won't he be in for a surprise!

  • 29. Sagesse  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Wikipedia page for Frank Kameny. He was one of the founders of the Mattachine Society, the original LGBT rights organization. Their activism predates Stonewall.

  • 30. GAYGUY  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:26 am

    I just wish these anti-gay people could find something else to occupy their time with…this has become SO boring listening to them lie and make so many lives miserable!

  • 31. Michelle Evans  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:31 am

    A bit OT, but wanted to get the word out to anyone who happens to be in the southern California/Orange County area. Right now in Irvine (and through the weekend) there is an exodus international conference going on about how they can "fix" LGBT people of their "afflictions" and "sins."

    There is an ongoing anti-exodus demonstration going on throughout the conference at the corner of University Drive and Ridgeline (just south of the University exit from the I-405). Anyone in the area is encouraged to come join us. I believe we'll be around until 8pm Thursday 9pm on Friday, and Saturday morning. Maybe I'll get a chance to meet some of my friends from the P8TT site! Now that would be especially cool.

  • 32. GAYGUY  |  June 24, 2010 at 8:31 am

    I have a bit of time tomorrow altho not a lot. Would to come and show support. I don't go south of LAX much, so not sure time frame…what would you say R/T would be LAX-Event-LAX…excluding bad traffic. What time of day does event start?

  • 33. Michelle Evans  |  June 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I have only heard the end times, which should be around 8pm as the light goes down. So not sure exactly what time they are starting. If I can find out I'll be sure to post that info, too. As far as travel time, without traffic, from LAX to that spot in Irvine is about 45-50 minutes.

  • 34. Michelle Evans  |  June 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Okay, I got better times for the rally against the exodus group in Irvine. They are supposed to be there from 10am to 9pm on Saturday and 10am to 6pm on Saturday. They say they can really use people between 1 and 5 pm, if anyone is available.

  • 35. Michelle Evans  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:37 am

    And hoping you all don't mind me sending another notice that starting in a few weeks (July 16) we will have a new transgender support group here in Orange County. It will be open to anyone who is trans, or even if you're not and just want to learn more about what this is all about.

    Take care, my friends.

  • 36. Kathleen  |  June 24, 2010 at 7:41 am

    UPDATE: The "Media Coalition" (media organizations that previously requested closing arguments be televised) has requested 48 hour advanced notice of the Court's ruling.
    Read letter here:

  • 37. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  June 24, 2010 at 8:07 am

    The 'scribed' web site is blocked for me at work for some odd reason….is there another link or site I can read this from?

  • 38. nightshayde  |  June 24, 2010 at 8:15 am

    It's really not all that interesting, Mark — Kathleen pretty much wrote out the whole thing. The only thing she didn't put in was something about the request being due to the level of interest in the outcome (i.e. lots of people are following this and will want to know the decision as soon as it's made public).

  • 39. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  June 24, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Thanks! 🙂

  • 40. Kathleen  |  June 24, 2010 at 8:16 am

    If you know of another site I can upload to, I'll be glad to do so. But don't worry; you're not missing much.

    They ask that "given the extraordinary public interest in this trial, we respectfully request that the Court provide 48 hours advanced notice when the Court's ruling in this case will be made publicly available."

    It would sure be great if Walker does this. Then I'll know what days I need to compulsively check my email for updates. 🙂

  • 41. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  June 24, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Thanks Kathleen, as always you're the bestest ever!

  • 42. Straight Grandmother  |  June 24, 2010 at 9:38 am

    3 CHEERS for Kathleen, as all of us regulars know she keeps us more curent on the actual Trial than this website. Where would we we all be without Katheen? I Respectfully suggest that Kathleen be given access to post topics. Why not?

  • 43. Brandy  |  June 24, 2010 at 10:01 am

    I think Kathleen could add a lot to the great work they are already doing here!

  • 44. Richard A. Walter (s  |  June 24, 2010 at 11:03 am

    She's got my vote, also!

  • 45. Shun  |  June 24, 2010 at 11:32 am

    we need more kathleens in the world 🙂

  • 46. Sheryl Carver  |  June 24, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Adding my vote to permit Kathleen to post topics!

    She rocks!

  • 47. JonT  |  June 24, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I would concur with that!

    Actually, it would be nice to convert this into more of a true forum-like system, where everyone can post, edit their posts, use real threading, select an avatar, be automatically subscribed to all posts/comments, etc… 🙂

    But, I've whined about that before.

    That's just me 🙂

  • 48. Richard A. Walter (s  |  June 24, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Actually, I have wished for the same thing many times, but kept thinking that when I mentioned it in emails to CC that it either wasn't possible or fell on deaf ears. Maybe if enough people request it, it will happen. Also, if anyone is familiar with WordPress's system and can tell me how to do it, I would like to be able to have guest bloggers on my blog. But I don't know how to set it up for that.

  • 49. fiona64  |  June 25, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Hi, Richard. I did a guest blog for a friend a long time ago. There are a couple of ways you can do it. You can either add people as creators on WordPress (using OpenID, LiveJournal, etc — which is what we did.) or you can have people send their articles to you for cut-and-paste.

    The latter is probably the safest and easiest way to do it.


  • 50. draNgNon  |  June 24, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    totally agree

  • 51. Straight Ally #3008  |  June 25, 2010 at 1:09 am


  • 52. JDinSeattle  |  June 24, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    This ruling – very welcome, ambiguous as it may be – comes just in time for our Gay Pride festivities in Seattle this weekend! Slam dunk with the SCOTUS.

    Not shocked at all Thomas dissented though. Grrr!

  • 53. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  June 24, 2010 at 7:32 am

    I know my husbear and I will certainly be celebrating…the small victory that it is!!
    See you at the parade on Sunday JD…I'll be the one in the rainbow outfit 🙂

    Happy Pride Month!!!!!

  • 54. Michael  |  June 24, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    What are radical anti-gay activists trying to hide? And why do they have this massive, collective guilty conscience? Could it be that in their hearts they KNOW what they are doing is wrong?

  • 55. Kathleen  |  June 24, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Having finally taken the time to read the decision, I now understand why the Court didn't reach a conclusion as to whether the signatures in this particular petition need to be disclosed.

    Petitioners made two arguments: (1) there is an absolute first amendment right for signatures to be anonymous, and (2) even if that absolute right doesn't exist, there is reason in this specific case that they should not be revealed. It is only the first argument that has made its way through the courts. The district court ruled in favor of the petition signers, the 9th Circuit reversed and the Supreme Court upheld the 9th Circuit decision.

    However, the district court has not yet reached a conclusion on the second argument – the one that claims this particular petition situation justifies granting anonymity to the signers. As such, that question wasn't before the appeals courts. So, it's not really a 'remand' situation. It would, of course, have been unnecessary to proceed with the second argument if the Court had agreed with the signers on the first claim. But because they didn't, they will now allow the second claim to make its way through the lower courts.

    There's a good, concise discussion here:

    Btw, while I agree that the motive of the anti-gay forces for keeping signatures on a petition anonymous and keeping cameras out of the Perry courtroom may be the same, I don't think the two situations involve the same considerations. So I'm not at all surprised that the Court could reach different conclusions in the two cases.

  • 56. Sagesse  |  June 24, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Sacramento rallies planned around the Prop 8 decision

  • 57. Sagesse  |  June 24, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    This is certainly an important decision, and a valuable 'almost win'. But I still think the essential disclosure is the disclosure of who funds these initiatives,preferably before the vote occurs.

    Ballot initiatives legislate, they create laws. The public knows and votes for the legislators who introduce laws. There are committees and debates and negotiation. If a measure is unconstitutional, it is less likely to be introduced or passed. There is process. A ballot initiative campaign is raw, unfiltered first amendment propaganda with an ad budget and paid canvassers. The public has a right to know who is behind ballot initiatives that, once passed will affect their lives like any other law.

    Some here will disagree with me (and that's ok :)), but the individual voters and petition signers are less 'the enemy' than Protect Marriage and NOM and the LDS and other religious groups with seemingly bottomless, national sources of funding. If disclosure manages to choke off some of that flow, or threaten the tax exempt status of the Churches, that would be progress. Until that happens, they just keep on coming.

    I'm probably being naive, by the way, since the funders will just burrow in under a few more layers of front organizations like NOM and Protect Marriage to hide. Oh well.

  • 58. Alan E.  |  June 24, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    The point is to not point out every single signer. The point is to show that the people signing were actually real people. If a person wants to find out if his or neighbors or friends signed onto this petition, then they have every right. The ultimate point is to see if there are any smoking gun signatures. Not everyone has the time, but there are some watchdog groups out there who do just this.

    I agree that the bigger enemies are NOM and the gang, but there are still individuals who are signing this that also have the potential to be swayed.

  • 59. Sagesse  |  June 25, 2010 at 12:20 am

    We're saying the same thing… slightly different emphasis.

    The thing about petition signers… they're interchangeable. To get a Prop 8 on the ballot at all takes money, starting with hiring paid canvassers to collect the required (insert # here) signatures, plus a margin for disqualification. If there's a war chest, the canvassers just keep working until they get enough. Who they convince to sign is irrelevant. Knowing who signed is important for the reasons you mention, but it won't stop the train or affect the outcome once they reach their number.

  • 60. PamC  |  June 25, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Isn't this also a way to ensure that the petition is legitimate? Not just copied from the phone book or the graveyard?

  • 61. fiona64  |  June 25, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Which is the entire point of the disclosure laws. 🙂


  • 62. Sagesse  |  June 25, 2010 at 4:39 am

    History that's even older than us older folk.

    You were asking about Frank Kameny…

  • 63. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  June 25, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Thank you SO much Sagesse for that link. That was a wonderful and yet hurtful story to read.
    When my husband and I were back in DC for the '93 civil rights march we both commented on how invisible we as a people were ( and are ) in the halls of the Smithsonian.
    Thank you again for posting

    Furry Hugs

  • 64. Bill  |  June 26, 2010 at 3:51 am

    What the court did in their ruling was to create a 'gay exception' to disclosure law.

    This is not really a victory for us.

    Case by case, the bigots will ONLY present the gay rights referendums to the courts for 'special exceptions' to the disclosure laws, and mostly they will get away with it.

  • 65. Kathleen  |  June 26, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Bill, how do you figure they created a 'gay exception' to the disclosure law? All this says is that there is not a broad first amendment right to non-disclosure.

  • 66. Goerge  |  June 28, 2010 at 1:10 am

    The ruling is consistent, balancing the state's interest of preventing fraud against voter fear of retribution for their votes.

    Many people who support traditional marriage and male-female relationships have friends, sons, and daughters who are gay; such people would not want their identities revealed in support of a heterosexual-protection bill for fear of jeopardizing their relationships with these people and/or making them feel bad about their chosen lifestyles. This, I believe, is the main reason that voters want their identities concealed.

    In the Prop8 television issue, the fear of retribution was established; moreover, there was no state interest in protecting the public from a fraud that would provide a compelling need to televise the case. Televising would only provide a prejudicial emotional element of no legal significance to sway public interest.

    Finally, revealing voter names would serve to chill the public from voting their minds or from voting at all; a very dangerous precedent.

  • 67. Alan E.  |  June 28, 2010 at 1:26 am

    such people would not want their identities revealed in support of a heterosexual-protection bill for fear of jeopardizing their relationships with these people and/or making them feel bad about their chosen lifestyles.

    If you have something to say, then you better be ready to defend it. This is equivalent to cowardice otherwise.

    Finally, revealing voter names would serve to chill the public from voting their minds or from voting at all

    They aren't revealing voter names. They are revealing those who pushed an agenda (note that I am using the neutral definition of agenda, not a polarized partisan one) to put something on the ballot. This is good for ALL people. Besides, the precedent (as you say a dangerous one) has been to reveal these names for many years before this ruling.

  • 68. Richard A. Walter (s  |  June 28, 2010 at 4:31 am

    Goerge ("Team George" in disguise)

    Du bist ein dray kup. Klug na, dine kup arbit nit. Meshuggah Monist. Metornish Du bisth ein SHANDA fer Menchen.

    Lubavitcher Rabbi Harav Abraham Benzion ben Abraham Avanu vaSarah Emanu haIsrael Jernigan

  • 69. Goerge  |  June 28, 2010 at 1:40 am

    Ever heard of secret ballot voting? The whole point is to encourage people to vote their mind without fear of retribution, embarassment or other effect.

  • 70. Alan E.  |  June 28, 2010 at 1:46 am

    There is a difference between the ballot vote and getting the position on the ballot in the first place. It requires petitions that have been signed outside of the realm of standard voting processes. A group of people are advocating a position, saying that they want it on the ballot for people to vote on. Only a portion of the population is required to sign the petition. A vote is put before the people to choose from. A petition is a unanimous "vote" of this portion of the population. Each "vote" for this petition has a lot more power to make it "pass" than a vote before the population. If someone doesn't want to sign the petition, they don't have to, but they don't count the "No" votes.

  • 71. fiona64  |  June 28, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Secret balloting is not affected by disclosing signatures on petitions, you nit. Nor is it affected by disclosing campaign donations above and beyond a certain dollar amount.

    Disclosure of petitions signatures and campaign finance is called transparency. You can still secretly vote your hatred and bigotry all day long without signing a petition or donating a dime.

    Hey, George? Which of your rights is it okay for me to put on the ballot for people to vote over? I'll cheerfully disclose my name. You just tell me which right of yours we can take away by popular vote and I'll get right on it.

  • 72. Goerge  |  June 28, 2010 at 2:38 am

    That's because you hate me Fiona; I understand. Most of these people don't hate; they're sensitive to others notwithstanding their disagreement with what they do.

    Transparency needs to be balanced against fear of retribution, embarrassment, etc…, regardless whether it is a petition or financial contribution.

  • 73. fiona64  |  June 28, 2010 at 3:29 am

    George, I don't hate you. I feel awfully sorry for you, and I don't like you very much — but I don't waste big emotions like hatred on you.

    So, answer the question: which of your rights is it okay to take away by popular vote?

  • 74. fiona64  |  June 28, 2010 at 3:57 am

    PS to George:

    If you are afraid that you'll be embarrassed by an action you took? Perhaps that's your conscience telling you that the action you took was WRONG.

  • 75. Richard A. Walter (s  |  June 28, 2010 at 4:33 am


    Du bist ein dray kup. Klug na, dine kup arbit nit. Meshuggah Monist. Metornish. Du bisth ein SHANDA fer Menchen.

    Lubavitcher rabbi Harav Abraham Benzion ben Abraham Avenu vaSarah Emanu haIsrael Jernigan

  • 76. Bob  |  June 28, 2010 at 2:54 am

    Hey George, try this on, Fiona, or any of us , don't hate you, we just hate your sinful behavior.

  • 77. Sheryl Carver  |  June 28, 2010 at 3:02 am

    Actually, it's Goerge's ignorance, illogic, & irrationality that most disturbs me.

  • 78. Lori  |  July 7, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I'm not sure whether to be pleasantly surprised Scalia voted with us or disturbed that he doesn't believe in a right to a secret ballot.

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