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
“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
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
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
“They've used these records to attack
corporations, to attack individuals,” Kors said.
Karger called the lawsuit “frivolous.”