A lawsuit that attempted to remove the names of Proposition 8 contributors from public view has failed, reports The Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. disagreed with supporters of the ballot measure that stripped the right to marry from gay and lesbian couples in California. England said the law is intended to protect the public.

“If there ever needs to be sunshine on a political issue, it is with a ballot measure,” England said.

ProtectMarriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage California, the groups that backed passage of Proposition 8, said the anonymity is needed because donors are being harassed.

“No one should have to worry about getting a death threat because of the way he or she votes,” James Bopp Jr., an attorney for the plaintiffs said before the ruling.

Petitioners had asked the court to order the secretary of state's office to remove the names of Proposition 8 contributors from its website and unburden the two groups from filing a final report on late donations due on Monday. The lawsuit also challenged the constitutionality of California's campaign finance laws.

But much of the harassment alleged in the complaint turned out to be First Amendment protected free speech, such as boycotts and protests, the state said.

Gay rights groups called 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: “After winning their deceitful campaign by only 4% points, they now hoped to keep the names secret of another 6,600 donors who must be reported on Monday, February 2. This is despicable.”

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.

Plaintiffs did not disclose if they would pursue an appeal.