Secrecy vs transparency in the struggle over gay rights

The battle over same-sex marriage has taken many twists and turns.  One of the more unusual cases pitted the privacy rights of those who signed a petition to repeal a Washington law on domestic partnerships against supporters of the law who claimed the public records law required disclosure of the names of the petition signers. Both claimed the First Amendment was on their side. The petition signers argued that disclosure of their names would subject them to harassment and intimidation.  Their opponents argued that disclosure would guard against the possibility of fraud.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of disclosure, although added that evidence of actual threats of violence and harassment might result in a different the decision.  Sure enough, the case is back in court on that issue, and the names have still not been disclosed.

Update: the law the petition sought to repeal was upheld by the voters, so now the case is about disclosing the names of people who signed a petition for a referendum that failed.  It seems unlikely that disclosure of their names now would subject them to threats or intimidation, even if it might have previously.  If that threat no longer exists, it’s hard to say why the names should be kept secret.  Fear of criticism or embarrassment isn’t a sufficient reason.

About Blog of the National Coalition Against Censorship

Blogging Censorship is where National Coalition Against Censorship staff weigh in on the censorship issues on their minds.
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