By Kathleen Gilbert
SEATTLE, June 11, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In an echo of tactics employed against true marriage supporters in California and elsewhere, a Washington state homosexualist website is threatening to publish the names and addresses of individuals signing a referendum to overturn a new homosexual civil unions law.
The tactic centers around efforts by Protect Marriage Washington to gather signatures for Referendum 71, which would bring into voter's hands a newly-passed law that grants all the rights of marriage to same-sex couples, minus the name. The group has until July 25 to collect 120,000 signatures supporting the ballot initiative.
WhoSigned.org, which has teamed with KnowThyNeighbor.org, vows to create a searchable database of the names of all Referendum 71 signers, along with the amount they gave and their place of employment. It is unclear whether their home addresses will also be published. The latter website has supported similar projects in Oregon, Florida and Arkansas.
Murphy says the purpose of exposing the names is to foster “conversation” between the opposing groups.
“We believe the process for initiative and referendum petitions that maintain discrimination by opposing equal rights and protections for Washington State residents must meet a high standard of transparency to ensure a fair and open discussion in the public forum,” wrote Brian Murphy, the creator of WhoSigned.org.
Murphy explained to the Seattle Post Intelligencer: “We hope when they find names of people who are familiar to them, that when at the grocery store or the soccer field or just mowing their lawn, that's a chance to have a conversation.
“If you want to sign (Referendum 71), you have the right to sign that, but be aware there are probably people who live near you, people you know, who would want to come and talk to you about what that means to them.”
News of the blacklisting met with mixed reviews from homosexualist groups. The leading opposition to Referendum 71, the Decline to Sign campaign, asked Murphy not to go through with the listing, according to a Seattle Post Intelligencer report.
The site, according to Decline to Sign leader Josh Freides, creates a barrier to civil discourse “when what we need to be doing is talking about the problems that Washington families face because they don't have the equal rights to protect themselves.”
The Seattle Times reports that election officials at the Secretary of State's Office in Olympia have fielded several inquiries from concerned citizens questioning the legality of WhoSigned.org. Officials say that it's unclear whether the site violates state law banning voter intimidation.
“It's not something we police but … a matter for the courts, if someone had a complaint,” secretary of state spokesman Dave Ammons told the Times. “It's a matter of judgment. Where do you cross the line between freedom of expression and getting in someone's face?”
While the battle was still being waged last year over Proposition 8, California's true marriage amendment, CaliforniansAgainstHate.com and AntiGayBlacklist.com raised tensions by publishing the names of donors, their addresses, place of employment, and the amount donated.
“We want to make sure that our millions of friends and allies throughout the United States know exactly who contributed vast sums of money against us,” said Californians Against Hate on their website. ”If these individuals, businesses, and organizations are so adamant in their desire to turn back the clock and take away our civil rights, then the gay community, our families and our friends will fight back.”
The LA Times reported in November that the El Coyote restaurant came under siege by hundreds of protesters because one such website exposed the private $100 “Yes on 8” contribution of the owner's daughter, Marjorie Christoffersen. The rioting became so out of control at one point that the LA Police Department was forced to quell the disturbance in riot gear.
Christoffersen met with protesters and even broke down in tears, but the picketers were not satisfied, and continued their protest both in front of the store and online, where they deluged the restaurant with bad reviews.
“This is a typical pattern around the country wherever the homosexual lobby is – employing hostile, undemocratic intimidation tactics wherever their interests are challenged,” said Larry Stickney, the president of the Washington Values Alliance and leader of the Referendum 71 campaign.
“They take the politics of personal destruction to new levels,” said Stickney. ”I am a personal recipient of dozens of obscene and threatening e-mails and phone calls since we filed this.
“I expect more of the same, but we're not backing down,” he added.
Maggie Gallagher, the president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy in New York, criticized the strategies for their chilling effect on the democratic process.
“They are using the public-disclosure laws to punish people for participating in the democratic process — a core right,” said Gallagher, the New York-based president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. ”People only do these tactics when they are afraid of voters and want to intimidate them.”
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Mormons, Knights of Columbus Face Chilling Threats and More Vandalism for Prop. 8 Support
Homosexual Activists Target California Businesses That Support Pro-marriage Proposition