Admittedly, Referendum 71, which voters passed last fall to uphold the state's third domestic-partnership law, feels like ancient history. But our state is still involved in a lawsuit over releasing the names and addresses of the bigots who signed the petition. It's going before the Supreme Court next month. The anti-gay lobby Protect Marriage Washington argues that if the names are released, the signers will be the targets violence (from irate gays who are still pissed that these folks were trying to take away the rights of same-sex couples). The state argues, however, that petitions are public records, the public has a legitimate interest in accessing those sorts of records, and that these petitions signers aren't at risk of violence, just awkward conversations. More background is here.
In that vein, the Secretary of State's office has filed a 60-page brief (.pdf) to the high court arguing to release the names of the petition signers. SOS spokesman David Ammons describes the state's interest:
The closely watched disclosure case has implications for all initiative and referendum petitions, including those in other states. Washington has never released the R-71 petitions due to a preliminary injunction that remains in place for that and other initiative petitions, including many sponsored by initiative activist Tim Eyman. ...
In a brief written by Deputy Solicitor William Collins, the state defends the Public Records Act and the state’s release policy. The act of signing a petition is described as a public legislative action by citizens, essentially like seconding a motion on a bill. No constitutional rights are abridged, and indeed, voters’ need for pertinent election information is enhanced, the brief says. They square the state’s policy with the disclosure portion of the recently released Citizens United case in the Supreme Court. And state attorneys say the issue of potential harassment of petition signers is not before the court, since it was not the subject of the district and appeals court rulings.
Cross your fingers: The Supreme Court has a long history of overturning cases from the 9th Circuit (as of last summer, the court has overturned 15 of the 16 cases from the 9th Circuit that session), and we're relying on teabagging Republican State Attorney General Rob McKenna to argue in the interest of the gays. The Supreme Court will hear the case on April 28.