Washington State Releases Names of Referendum 71 Signers

Washington State Releases Names of Referendum 71 Signers

Following a ruling from a federal judge, Washington State began to release the names of people who signed a petition to bring a domestic partnership law to a public vote two years ago with Referendum 71.

The Seattle Times reports on the move by the Secretary of State’s office to release some 137,500 names following the ruling in the case, Doe v. Reed. U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle of Tacoma said that Protect Marriage Washington, the group that sponsored the failed ballot initiative to overturn the domestic-partnership law, provided no compelling evidence of threats or harassment to petition signers that would exempt them from the Public Records Act.

“In a strongly worded, 34-page ruling, Settle said every citizen should be concerned that advocating for traditional marriage, as Protect Marriage does, engenders such hostility in this state,” reports the Seattle Times.

“Yet, if Protect Marriage could get around the Public Records Act ‘by simply providing a few isolated incidents of profane or indecent statements, gestures, or other examples of uncomfortable conversations ... disclosure would become the exception instead of the rule,’ the judge said.”

Stephen Pidgeon, an attorney for Protect Marriage Washington, said the court “erred.” His group has filed an appeal.

The ruling marked the latest turn in a two-year legal battle over transparency that reached the Supreme Court at one point before being remanded back to Judge Settle. Protect Marriage Washington tried to point toward hostilities elsewhere, notably against people in California after Proposition 8 passed there in 2008.

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