Following a move by the San Francisco Chronicle, LAtimes.com in late June launched a database of people who donated for and against California's Proposition 8.
While this information is available to the public from the state of California, now anyone can quickly find out who donated money — and how much — to support or fight the ban on marriage equality in the state. Readers simply punch in names, employers, or ZIP codes to discover if their neighbor or relative involved themselves in the ballot initiative, California's most expensive ever. The tally of contributions made around Prop. 8 campaigns was $83,169,873 — with $44,123,811 going to oppose the ban and $39,046,062 to support it. The measure passed with 52% of the vote.
Within California's gay epicenters, West Hollywood and the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco, a large number of people gave money to oppose the ban. In the West Hollywood ZIP codes of 90069 and 90046, 1,895 people donated money against Prop. 8, while one individual and two businesses contributed money toward the ban. In the 94114 ZIP code in the Castro, 2,490 people gave money against Prop. 8, and nine people contributed funds toward the ban.
Both databases aren't entirely comprehensive — some donors who contributed at parties and gatherings don't appear to be part of the lists. Nonetheless, thousands of donors' contributions and information, including places of employment, are now visible to readers of both websites.
In Washington state, thousands of people who signed petitions in 2008 supporting a rollback of expanded domestic-partnership benefits attempted to keep their identities hidden from public view, ostensibly because they feared harassment and retaliation. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8–1 last month that the names were to be made public.
"I think public disclosure of political campaigns is a really important principle," Marc Solomon, marriage director for Equality California, says. "If the CEO of a company gives a million dollars to take away rights, she or he should know their name will be made public and there might be consequences."
Case in point is Doug Manchester, a San Diego hotelier who donated $125,000 to support the ban and has faced boycotts of his properties ever since.