Supreme Court's second move worries gays
Windy City Times"With the first decision, it might have looked like it was mostly driven by justices who are just adamantly opposed to cameras in the courtroom," said Jenny Pizer, head of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund's National Marriage Project. "But with the second decision, it goes from being worrisome to alarming. Both decisions are based on quite absurd arguments" that the anti-gay activists are being "terribly persecuted by an angry mob, and that's just ridiculous."
Within the space of a week, the US Supreme court has made two moves which have gay advocates worried; even ' alarmed'.
First, there was the case of barring cameras from the Proposition 8 trial in the high court of California, in San Francisco. This was viewed by many as 'a dark omen'. (See Now Public story by this author.)
In its second surprise move, the U.S. Supreme Court announced Jan. 15 it would review a dispute involving anti-gay activists' alleged fear of harassment over their public opposition to legal recognition for same-sex relationships in the state of Washington. This is the case of Doe versus Reed , involving the referendum 71 and the gay partnership benefits expansion.
Here is the Certiorari-Stage document opinion of the Ninth Circuit course involving Doe versus Reed : Link here.
Because both moves constitute highly unusual involvements of the US Supreme court in two cases in so short a time span - and both related to same-sex relationships— gay legal experts and advocacy groups are understandingly alarmed.
In addition, a reporter has detailed the antics of gay advocates after Proposition 8 passed in California. These included these acts against proponents of Proposition 8: Spray painting, bible burning, urinating, defacing cars and windows, and making angry calls and sending threatening emails, along with racial slurs. (See Now Public story by this author) Although gay activists have argued - reasonably - that these offenders represent a fringe minority of the same sex marriage movement - there does appear to be the need for damage control and rectification.
The latest case, Doe v. Reed, stems from the controversy over a new law that recognizes domestic partnerships in Washington state. The legislature passed, and the voters—through Referendum 71—ratified that new law last year. But a lingering side issue in matter has been whether citizens who signed the petitions that forced the new law onto the ballot last November can block those petitions—normally, a part of the public record—from public view.
Those who want to keep the petitions secret say they are asking for this special dispensation because they fear that people who disagree with them will harass them for having taken the position that they did. Protect Marriage Washington, the group that sought, unsuccessfully, to overturn the domestic partnership law, filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to seal the petitions from public scrutiny. A federal judge issued a temporary order stopping release of the signatures, pending a final decision, and the appeals of that decision are now before the high court.
The U.S. Supreme Court's announcement that it would intervene in that dispute comes just two days after the Supreme Court took the unusual move of intervening in a procedural dispute surrounding California's Proposition 8. Proponents of that November 2008 initiative, which was successful in banning legal recognition for same-sex relationships, claim they are opposed to making the trial proceedings available for even a very limited amount of public exposure because they fear harassment from people who disagree with them.
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Omaha, Nebraska, United States