A lawsuit that attempts to remove the names of Proposition 8 contributors from public view is being called hypocritical and “frivolous” by gay rights activists.

In the newly-filed lawsuit, supporters of the ballot measure that stripped the right to marry from gay and lesbian couples in California are seeking to remove their campaign finance records from public view, reports The Associated Press.

The gay marriage ban backers say the anonymity is needed because donors are being harassed.

James Bopp Jr., an attorney representing protectmarriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage California, two groups that supported the gay marriage ban, told The Associated Press: “No one should have to worry about getting a death threat because of the way he or she votes. This lawsuit will protect the right of all people to help support causes they agree with, without having to worry about harassment or threats.”

“There has been a systematic attempt to intimidate, threaten and harass donors to the Proposition 8 campaign,” said Ron Prentice, chairman of protectmarriage.com, in a statement. “This harassment is made possible because of California's unconstitutional campaign finance disclosure rules as applied to ballot measure committees where even donors of as little as $100 must have their names, home addresses and employers listed on public documents.”

Petitioners are asking the court to order the secretary of state's office to remove the names of Prop 8 contributors from its website and unburden the two groups from filing a final report on donations due at the end of January. The lawsuit also challenges the constitutionality of California's campaign finance laws.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Sacramento, cites a series of threating and harassing incidents. According to the petition, donors have received emails, phone calls and postcards that threated “Burn in hell,” “Consider yourself lucky. If I had a gun, I would have gunned you down along with each every other supporter,” and “I just wanted to call and let you know what a great picture that was of you and the other Nazi's [sic] in the newspaper ... Don't worry though, we have plans for you and your friends.”

Acts of vandalism and property destruction suffered by donors are also detailed in the lawsuit.

California's Supreme Court has agreed to hear a lawsuit that challenges the validity of the gay marriage ban; an opinion may be in the offing as early as March. Gay rights activists have vowed to place a measure on the 2010 ballot that restores the right to marry for gay couples in the state should the court uphold the ban. Opponents fear contributors – aware of the backlash against Prop 8 donors – may shy away from such a fight if their names are not shielded.

But gay rights groups are calling the challenge hypocritical.

Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, a group noted in the lawsuit as existing for “the primary purpose of identifying and taking action against supporters of Proposition 8,” said: “These very organizations who were major funders to Yes-on-8 like Donald Wildmon's American Family Association ($500,000) and James Dobson's Focus on the Family ($623,000) and their allies have been boycotting and blacklisting companies for decades who dared to support the rights of gays and lesbians. ... They have been trying to ruin companies big and small to stop equal rights and fairness.”

And Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, the group that led the campaign against the gay marriage ban, pointed out that Prop 8 backers used the very same campaign finance records during the campaign to threaten gay marriage supporters.

“They've used these records to attack corporations, to attack individuals,” Kors said.

Karger called the lawsuit “frivolous.”