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  • Civil Debate Is on the Ballot Too

    As citizens in Maine and Washington state near votes on measures to protect traditional marriage, a subtheme of the debate on this issue is being raised anew: the harassment and intimidation of advocates of traditional marriage by their opponents on the issue. On Wednesday of this week, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 8-1 to preserve a stay on Washington state’s planned publishing of the names of citizens who signed the petition that put marriage-equivalent benefits for same-sex couples on the November 3 ballot. Washington’s law SB 5688 is controversial because it creates a functional equivalent of marriage in a state that overwhelmingly approved a Defense of Marriage law in 1998.

    Threats and acts of intimidation, property destruction and other forms of violence against proponents of traditional marriage reached their peak last year in the aftermath of California voters’ decision to amend their state constitution to protect marriage. As a just-released paper by Heritage Foundation Visiting Fellow Tom Messner documents, the incidents were widespread and serious, including loss of employment and even physical violence. Many of those incidents involved confrontations aimed by same-sex marriage activists at obvious targets – Catholic, Mormon and evangelical churches actively supporting the constitutional amendment – and citizens who had placed pro-Prop-8 signage on their property. Other incidents were more indirect, involving threats and reprisals against employers and employees as a result of the publication of citizens’ names and addresses on easily accessed web sites.

    This in turn has been facilitated by state campaign reporting laws that require collection and publication of information about even petition signers for referendum campaigns. In Washington, two groups that advocate same-sex marriage, WhoSigned.org and KnowThyNeighbor.org, plan to create searchable internet databases that would show the petition signers’ names and addresses. The groups say they want the information released so that other Washington residents could talk to their neighbors about their views and attempt to persuade them. Leaders of the pro-traditional marriage campaigns in both Washington and Maine say that they have already been subject to threats and harassment as a result of their public involvement in the debates.

    Meanwhile, advocates of greater ballot secrecy measures are taking active steps to protect the names of campaign donors. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and American Principles in Action (APIA), which support Proposition 1 in Maine, have filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin Maine’s requirement that donors, including individuals, register in the state as “ballot question committees” if they spend more than $5,000 in relation to a ballot issue. The suit argues that the requirement is unconstitutional under a previous federal court ruling that found Maine’s political action committee law could only be applied to entities whose major purpose was ballot measure advocacy.

    A history of and potential for personal retaliation against ballot voters who take part in controversial policy questions argues strongly for the broadest protection of their right to privacy in this context. The peaceful resolution of disputes on heated questions of public policy is a civic value of the highest order.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Civil Debate Is on the Ballot Too

    1. Glen Turpening, Flor says:

      The public option creating competition is a lie outright. When Congress can arbitrarily increase funding to the health plan with the effect of lowering rates for the poor or any class of people, then companies cannot possibly compete.

      As Obama has stated in speeches that he has made at union meetings, his desire is for there to only be public healthcare with no corporations providing services. He also said it may take ten years, but people (socialists/marxists) like him would make it happen.

      It would get there by the following:


      A Cuckoo bird lays it's eggs in another species nest and is tended to like it's own by the unsuspecting mother. When the Cuckoo bird is hatched, it is so aggressive that it pushes out all the other eggs or hatchlings to garner all the food from the adopted mother.

      If Obamacare gets a foothold into our current healthcare environment, it will provide a mechanism to make all the other healthcare providers go bankrupt or leave the business by arbitrarily controlling the premiums with our tax dollars. The effect would naturally occur that employers would dump their employees onto the government plan to save money.

      If the public option is such a good idea for providing competition, then why doesn't Medicare and Medicaid allow for private companies to compete for the business that Medicare and Medicaid have all tied up? Of course, that is not the direction Obama wants to take the country. Obama wants huge government with the masses totally dependent on it.

      Stand in the gap conservatives!!!!

    2. Lurleen, Seattle says:

      This article was written with no sense of proportion. Gay people are routinely beaten and sometimes murdered simply for being gay. For Protect Marriage Washington to claim some kind of victimhood because they received some onerous emails is ridiculous. If a crime was committed against them, then arrest and punish the criminal. But withholding domestic partnerships from a group of people simply because a few from that group allegedly engaged in criminal behavior makes as much sense as preventing all heterosexuals from marrying because our prisons are loaded with heterosexuals.

      Using the Supreme Court's vote to temporarily uphold the stay while they decide whether to take the case to imply that they agree that plaintiffs have been martyred displays a misunderstanding of how courts operate. Shame on you for misrepresenting the truth.

    3. Dave, Royal Oak, MI says:

      No one I know would support harming anyone for their political beliefs, I myself would encourage people to speak out for what they believe in. Having said this I find it highly unlikely that the reason they want the names published has anything to do with trying to persuade someone to believe as they do. The whole purpose is to intimidate them into "not doing" something, which in this case is participating in the debate. Any group that thinks that the way to advance their cause is to intimidate people who disagree with them are wrong. All this is meant to end debate not to advance anyone's safety be they gay or straight. If one wants to influence their neighbor threats and intimidation are not the proper course, persuasion and respect seems more appropriate.

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