Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ninth Circuit Reverses Decision on R-71 Signatures

Posted by on Thu, Oct 15, 2009 at 12:20 PM

The state has won a case to release the names and addresses of people who signed the petitions for Referendum 71, says Washington Attorney General's office spokeswoman Janelle Guthrie, but the signatures will not be immediately released [see updates]. In a short email, she writes, "The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today granted an immediate stay and reversed a lower court’s preliminary injunction blocking the release of Referendum 71 petitions containing the names and addresses of those who signed the measure. The underlying case challenges the state’s public records law as an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment."

Brian Murphy, who blogs as the Gay Curmudgeon, filed a records request for the 9,359 petitions sheets used to get Referendum 71 on the ballot earlier this year. He planned to post the names and addresses online so gays and supporters could politely confront the petition-signing bigots who want to put gay rights up for a public vote. But Protect Marriage Washington, which gathered the signatures, argued that the petitions should remain sealed, because releasing the information would cause petition signers "immediate and irreparable deprivations of their First Amendment liberties." More on the case is here.

UPDATE: Secretary of State's office spokesman David Ammons says:

The three-judge panel said [District Court] Judge Benjamin Settle relied on a faulty legal standard in issuing a ban last month on the state releasing R-71 petition sheets — apparently a reference to foes’ theory that petitions are constitutionally-protect “anonymous free speech.” Secretary of State Sam Reed, relying on advice from the Attorney General, treats the petitions as a releasable public record, not as a private act by a citizen. He and Attorney General McKenna say taking part in the initiative and referendum process amounts to taking part in the public act of citizen legislating, and that disclosure of the names is appropriate in the same way that people demand to know the sponsorship of legislation in Olympia.

There is one more legal step the state must take before releasing the petitions to the six groups or individuals who requested the records: Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks, in a case brought by initiative activist Tim Eyman, on Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order against the Secretary releasing any petitions, until he hears from the 9th Circuit. Hicks told attorneys at that hearing that he would want to hear back from them, and indicated he would schedule a full airing of both sides. Eyman's case is a broad attack on the state's policy of releasing petitions, and arises out of a lobbyist's request for petitions of 11 initiatives from the past decade, most of them Eyman-sponsored measures.

UPDATE 2: Says Guthrie:

The Attorney General’s Office will now file an emergency motion in Thurston County Superior Court asking Judge Richard Hicks to clarify that the temporary restraining order he issued yesterday in Eyman v. Reed does not apply to the Referendum 71 petitions. The state will request the court lift the temporary restraining order because it was largely dependent on the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.


Comments (22) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Renton Mike 1
Sounds like good news so far.
Posted by Renton Mike on October 15, 2009 at 12:33 PM · Report this
very bad homo 2
No special rights for bigots!
Posted by very bad homo on October 15, 2009 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Simply Me 3
This is fantastic news! Now back to voting....

Did you know your ballot is going to arrive tomorrow (or the next day)? Are you ready to vote to approve referendum 71 or what? Remind everyone you know to vote approve on referendum 71.
Posted by Simply Me on October 15, 2009 at 12:56 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
Nah nah nah nah.
Nah nah nah nah.
Hey hey hey.

Good ruling!

Quick, crosscheck the known sex offenders with those who signed the original pro-hate initiative.

I'll bet you'll get lots of hits (well, except those without the current right to vote).
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 15, 2009 at 1:21 PM · Report this
Thank you, Dominic, this is huge.
Posted by entropy on October 15, 2009 at 1:22 PM · Report this
Instead of reporting this, should you be phone banking and canvassing?
Posted by Are you trying to lose? on October 15, 2009 at 1:22 PM · Report this
Wither in the sun, bigots.
Posted by tiktok on October 15, 2009 at 1:29 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 8
Fantastic news. What is the earliest release could occur now, realistically?
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on October 15, 2009 at 1:58 PM · Report this
I'm a huge supporter of Referendum 71, but I find the act of posting these signers' information online to be an unnecessary and counter-productive measure. I don't care if we have the right to examine these names, but posting them online for mass circulation changes the nature of things. If I was in a highly-politicized minority like the anti-71 constituency, I wouldn't want to be interrogated by a torch-bearing majority and I certainly wouldn't change my mind because of hearing from them. Gay rights supporters have eminently better uses of their time.
Posted by greatnotion on October 15, 2009 at 2:00 PM · Report this
Baconcat 10
Go check the KOMO comments-- there are people saying they're going to buy guns and basically physically assault any R71 supporter who comes near them. Hot air, obviously, but it was the basis for PMW's initial argument in court.

By that token, Loveschild supports people shooting R71 supporters for even mentioning it to people who signed the petition. You know, because she says anyone who supports release is supporting violence against anti-family/anti-equality activists like herself. So if there's any anti-gay violence against an R-71 supporter, Loveschild supports it fully.
Posted by Baconcat on October 15, 2009 at 2:02 PM · Report this
If they're going to vote on MY rights, which - if I had them - I'd be able to enjoy out in public, then I think I have the right to know who's doing it to me. I wouldn't do anything to harrass those people, but I bet if the roles were reversed, you couldn't say the same about those anti scumbuckets.
Posted by KKaye on October 15, 2009 at 2:07 PM · Report this
@9 is right.
every second spent on this;
perusing the list,
contacting signers;
is a distraction.

And any media coverage generated by it will help antiR71 more- most people will resent the implications.

Go for it...
Posted by Grasshoppers on October 15, 2009 at 2:24 PM · Report this
Reality Check 13
"polite" confrontation huh? Riiiiighhhtttt.

We'll see how long that can last.

So once we start hearing recorded phone confrontations, or someone videos an escalated conversation will all of you ... and especially you Dominic, be willing to admit this effort was all a farce to hide the ulterior motive of harrassment?

If someone hangs up on you, or if someone walks away you'll immediately stop the confrontation right? The "polite" inference would dictate this answer would be yes.

Does anyone really believe that any confrontation with any single person who signed the petition will result in anyone changing their mind, or further... that anyone witnessing gays being bullies will cause those on the fence to immediately side with rejecting R 71?


Or is there another underlying motive to get the names released? Did someone intentionally "plant" a few signatures, and have someone else sign their name down, in order to create controversy, once the names are released and *gasp* "WE discovered a couple names!" Scandal!

Hmmmm manufactured scandal.... wouldn't surprise me a bit.

Neither would these "polite" conversations turning into a shouting match.
Posted by Reality Check on October 15, 2009 at 2:24 PM · Report this
Michael from Washington 14
I'll be running through the names of every staff member at my school to see if anything matches up. If so, I will be -pissed-.
Posted by Michael from Washington on October 15, 2009 at 2:41 PM · Report this
Baconcat 15
@13: Reality Wreck, your use of the word "harassment" in this instance is simply a reframing of what is in reality an uncomfortable exercise of freedom of speech. And being that this state has traditionally not been particularly keen on doing anything that could be considered "uncomfortable", it goes against common sense to shake your hands in dire warning about some yet-to-happen harassment. Moreover, the State argued successfully in the 9th circuit that there was no legitimate harassment in CA that could be construed as a result of anything more than lack of restraint the limited nature of which refuted claims that there was a concentrated campaign of intimidation.

I fail to see any legitimate cause for concern, especially when one considers the lack of any attacks on anti-gay activists and no recorded assault on a petition gatherer within this state.
Posted by Baconcat on October 15, 2009 at 2:43 PM · Report this
The Amazing Jim 16
When Prop. 8's contributers were posted on line, I checked for co-workers and business that I frequent. Fortunately I didn't see any. The closest I come to retaliating was not letting anyone with a "Yes on 8" bumpersticker merge on the freeway.
Posted by The Amazing Jim on October 15, 2009 at 3:17 PM · Report this
The opponents were claiming that releasing the signatures could make them vulnerable to harassment and that this would interfere with "anonymous free speech". Well, last I checked there is no right to "anonymous" free speech. Nevermind signing a petition. If I go to a political rally, I am committing a public act of free speech & free association. Someone could easily take my photo and put it on the evening news. And I could face harassment. I go because I believe in the cause. Nobody ever said I had the right to do so in complete anonymity.

Now if someone did harass, or worse, any of the signers, then that person is committing a crime and can be dealt with by the police. There is no legitimate need to hide the signatures simply because maybe possibly someone somewhere just might call you names.

And as pointed out... it has long been known that signing the petition becomes public record. If you don't believe in the cause enough to take that risk, don't sign. But it's not an infringement on your free speech. The Constitution says that you have the right of free speech. It does NOT say "without social consequences".
Posted by maybe anonymous maybe not on October 15, 2009 at 4:37 PM · Report this
Queer Equality Revolution 18
Let's be perfectly clear, since I'm getting REALLY tired of people failing to connect-the-dots and take responsibility for the harm they inflict on our families and children.

In November, voters will decide if they want HURT our families and STEAL our due money by taking away:

* Death benefits for the partners of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
* Pension benefits for the partners of teachers and other public employees.
* Victims’ rights, including the right to receive notifications and benefits allowances.
* The right to use sick leave to care for a seriously ill partner.
* The right to workers’ compensation benefits if a partner is killed in the course of
* The right to receive unemployment benefits if an employee must leave a job to care
for a seriously ill partner.

Cruel suffering brought to our families, financial losses that should be called THEFT, and we're supposed to "hope" everyone likes us and APPROVES? When our own government REFUSES to protect us and FAILS to offer equal protection and rights - we are left totally alone.

This voting on rights needs to stop NOW. It is immoral.
Posted by Queer Equality Revolution on October 15, 2009 at 5:50 PM · Report this
I want to see if I mistakenly signed the petition before I knew how the law worked. The way it's worded, if you didn't know the law was already in place, the signature gatherers could come up and ask if you support domestic partnerships and one might sign it.

I might have - cause of course I'd say "Hell ya!"

The entire set up was designed to fool people into signing - Stickney argued to set it up that way knowing that as much as 13% of the population votes no if they don't understand the issue.

If I did sign, I was tricked, and I bet I'm not alone. I'd like to be able to check the rolls.
Posted by stcrispy on October 15, 2009 at 6:11 PM · Report this
I have to agree with Stcrispy (#19).. I heard of many that were tricked (lied to) to get them to sign. There was a youtube video taken in Port Angeles (sorry I don't have the link) where the signature-gather lied big time and almost got two women to sign that wouldn't have signed if they had been told the truth about the petition.

When I look at the lists, I will (like others) see if any of the businesses I frequent signed (owners, majority of workers). If they tell me they signed with FULL KNOWLEDGE of what it was about, I would tell them that I will start going elsewhere and why. If I am convinced that they were lied to (tricked) then I will continue to go there. That is the extent of my "harassment." It is MY money to shop where I choose.

just my 2 cents

Posted by ajisme on October 15, 2009 at 10:11 PM · Report this
The state/PDC is investigating Constantine’s campaign for illegal and unethical activities.
Posted by Dow signed the petition, too on October 16, 2009 at 6:14 AM · Report this
Here's the link that ajisme is referring to about the Port Angeles guy who was trying to trick people into signing:…

Posted by JesseLY on October 17, 2009 at 2:52 PM · Report this

Add a comment


All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy