A temporary restraining order issued
Wednesday blocks the release of a list of people supporting the
repeal of a gay-inclusive domestic partnership law in Washington
State, the Seattle Times reported.
On Saturday, opponents of the law
turned in about 138,000 petition signatures, delaying the start of
the law which was supposed to begin last Sunday. Petition supporters
need 120,577 valid voter signatures to qualify Referendum 71 for the
ballot but election officials say 18% of signatures are often thrown
out, leaving supporters with little room for errors.
If the petition qualifies, gay rights
has said it will publish the names of signers on the Internet. Names
of people who sign petitions become public record after the Secretary
of State verifies a petition.
That prompted Protect Marriage
Washington, the campaign behind Referendum 71, to seek protection
from U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle, a Bush administration
The campaign argued that the public
release of the names of people who signed the petition would put them
at risk of harassment, reprisals and boycotts of their businesses,
amounting to an unconstitutional infringement on free speech rights.
Wednesday's order forbids the Secretary
of State from releasing the names, for now. A hearing is scheduled
for Sept. 3.
The Christian-based legal group
Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) earlier set up a Referendum 71 webpage to
collect data from people who “have been threatened or suffered
retaliation after signing an R-71 petition” or have been prevented
from signing a petition.
If it qualifies and fails in November,
Referendum 71 would only repeal rights approved by the Legislature
this year, the second time the gay-inclusive domestic partnership law
has been extended. Governor Chris Gregoire signed into law the
original bill that created the domestic partnership law and the two
extensions. This year's law places domestic partners on par with
married couples with regards to rights and obligations offered by the
state, and was dubbed the “everything but marriage” bill by the
media. Washington State bans gay marriage by law.
Allegations of dirty tricks in
collecting the signatures have already surfaced. The
most damaging is video shot last weekend by a twenty-seven-year-old
filmmaker that shows a petitioner asking people who are in favor
of gay marriage to sign a Referendum 71 petition,which is neither
about marriage nor is it pro-gay.
“We can't let discrimination be
perpetuated and sit back and say, 'That's OK,'” Brian Murphy of
WhoSigned.org told the paper.