US High court will hear appeal of gay marriage opponents
Reuters.com NewsJames Bopp, the attorney representing Protect Marriage Washington, urged the Supreme Court to put in place permanent safeguards to protect petition signers from harassment and intimidation."Those who support traditional marriage have seen their personal property destroyed and have been subject to death threats because of their beliefs," he said. "The Supreme Court now has the opportunity to prevent this from recurring in future elections by preventing the government from compelling citizens to disclose their identities and beliefs to the public," Bopp said.
The United States' high court has given its consent to hear an appeal by a group which opposes gay marriage.
They are asking that the court grant them the right to prevent the public release of the names - more than 138,000 individuals - on a Washington state petition for the protection of traditional marriage.
Protect Marriage Washington opposed a law which granted expanded rights and benefits to same sex couples. The referendum , if publicly released with the signatures , would make its signers vulnerable as targets of gay advocates, they proposed.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that video from the landmark trial over California's same-sex marriage ban cannot be broadcast, handing a victory to those defending the ban.
By a 5-4 vote, the court's conservative majority agreed with attorneys who support the ban who argued their witnesses would be intimidated if the trial were broadcast.
In the Washington state case, the Court is expected to hear arguments at the end of April, with a decision likely by the end of June. At issue is whether signing a referendum is a form of political speech protected by the First Amendment and whether there is a right to sign it without public disclosure.
More than 138,000 individuals signed a petition to put a referendum on the state ballot that would have overturned a new state law extending the benefits of marriage to couples registered as domestic partners. The referendum failed.
Some supporters of gay rights had vowed to put the names of those who signed the petition on the Internet.
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Washington Attorney General Robert McKenna opposed the appeal. He said the state's public records law applied to those who sign such petitions.
He said allowing public inspection of such petitions does not violate the rights of the signers who have publicly disclosed their names and addresses to referendum sponsors.