Opponents of a Washington law that
recognizes gay and lesbian couples with nearly all the legal
protections of marriage have lost their legal case to keep private
the names of signers of a petition that attempted to repeal the law.
Social conservatives wanted to block
the public release of the nearly 138,000 signatures that put
Referendum 71 on the state's ballot in 2009. The ballot initiative
asked voters to accept – or reject – an expansion of an existing
domestic partnership law approved by lawmakers. Voters opted 53-to-46
to keep the law dubbed “everything but marriage” by the media.
According to The
Seattle Times, the Secretary of State's office will release
the names immediately.
Protect Marriage Washington, the
Christian conservative group behind the lawsuit, argued that the
signers would be harmed – either verbally or physically – if
their names were disclosed.
“We still think the people who signed
these petitions in good faith acted in a way they didn't think would
expose them to the kind of ridicule and possible danger we feel is
out there,” Protect Marriage Washington Spokesman Gary Randall told
But U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle
of Tacoma disagreed, saying the group failed to show any “serious
and widespread threats, harassment, or reprisals against the signers
of R-71, or even that such activity would be reasonably likely to
occur upon the publication of their names and contact information.”
Randall said his group planned to