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Legal War For WA State Sunshine Law 1364

Posted by kdawson
from the public-acts-public-records dept.
joeszilagyi writes "In a major battle in Washington State, anti-gay rights groups created and got R-71 on the 2009 election ballot. This is a public initiative to put same-sex civil unions up for public vote. The real legal war then erupted: activists created WhoSigned.org to take advantage of WA state's Public Records Act, and put the names of all people who publicly endorsed R-71 on a public, SEO-optimized website. Lawsuits quickly followed, and today it reached the United States Supreme Court, in a matter of months. The records appear to have always been public, but have only been available in digital form since 2006. An assault on civil rights, an assault on marriage, or an assault on sunshine laws and freedom of information?"
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Legal War For WA State Sunshine Law

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @08:24AM (#29806201)

    The Justice of the Peace didn't say they couldn't get married. He said he wasn't going to be the one who did it, then gave them the name of another JotP that would.

  • Re:Buzz Words! (Score:3, Informative)

    by i_ate_god (899684) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @08:28AM (#29806229) Homepage

    Being SEO optimized == the persons name being indexed and associated with being anti gay.

  • by JerryLove (1158461) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @08:41AM (#29806355)

    The discussion is over the legal recognition of said marriage.

    Actually, this discussion is over a website listing in a searchable way those who signed a petition to put gay-civil-unions on a ballot.

  • Re:So? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @09:09AM (#29806633)
    You can't spell.
  • by jgtg32a (1173373) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @09:19AM (#29806741)
    This is a very well written and intelligent post, however there's one small problem with it. There never has been any expectation of privacy on these kinds of petitions. Actually back in the day when petitions like these could carry grave consequences all the name would be publicly listed, the only "privacy" was they wouldn't identify the ring leaders.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Round-robin [wikipedia.org]
  • by pleappleappleap (1182301) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @09:52AM (#29807227) Homepage

    This isn't just some random piece of paper a bunch of people signed. This is a petition to the government of the state. It's a matter of public record.

  • Re:Turn the tables (Score:2, Informative)

    by Thalaric (197339) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @09:56AM (#29807305)

    I don't know how it works in Seattle, but here in Los Angeles that whole sob story about not being able to visit your partner in the hospital is a load of bollocks and sensationalism. In California domestic partners have all the rights commonly whined about, excepting taking their partnership to another state. Sorry that can only be fixed on a federal level, so all these state initiatives don't get you any closer. This entire issue is one of mostly semantics.

  • Re:Turn the tables (Score:3, Informative)

    by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @10:00AM (#29807339)
    I know right? Just like 'geek' can only mean somebody who bites the heads off of chickens. Language never evolves, terms never change, and people who say they do are just IGNORANT.
  • Re:Turn the tables (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maxmin (921568) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @10:07AM (#29807451)
    My sister married a gal from a wealthy family. They've spent over $20,000 on legal documents, trusts and related nonsense in order to ensure they have *some* of the rights entitled to heterosexual couples. And that's just for things that matter to courts - they can't change laws which grant rights only straight family members (visitation, child privileges, etc.)
  • Re:Turn the tables (Score:4, Informative)

    by jones948 (726106) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @10:09AM (#29807477)
    http://blog.mattalgren.com/2009/09/hospital-forces-lesbian-to-die-alone/ [mattalgren.com] "...made the decision not to allow Janice Langbehn, Lisa Pond’s partner, to have standard family access to information, even after receiving durable Power of Attorney and a Living Will naming Janice as legal guardian with authority to make end-of-life decisions."
  • by AndersOSU (873247) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @10:17AM (#29807587)

    actually, that's Saturday - and Jesus said it was ok to work - and I don't think the punishment is death.

    Odd though how the sabbath can move, adulterers don't have to be stoned to death anymore, and I can have a ham and havarti sandwich, but the gay is still verboten...

  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @11:09AM (#29808399)
    Here's a confusing, but detailed explanation of why Christians can eat pork http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/574145/should_christians_eat_pork.html?cat=34 [associatedcontent.com]

    I'm not endorsing the author or the views, but it is an interesting read that I found quickly. New law vs Old law confuses a lot of folks. It's not highlighted well in the article, but the main difference is that Old was in place because it was right at the time and only applies to Jews. It was superseded by New law. Kind of like turning 18 and being covered by adult laws. Not combined, as some people try. i.e. The 10 commandments aren't a part of new law. Heck, technically you'd have to be Jewish and Christian to even consider applying old and new simultaneously. Christians still refer to Old testament because, hey, it's still got plenty of interesting theological stuff.

    But, again, people get confused and try to mix the two and end up acting like jerks.
  • by Kate6 (895650) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @11:26AM (#29808703) Homepage

    The important thing to know about the situation in Washington is that no one is actually looking to change that. R-71 is not in any way shape or form about gay marriage. It's about domestic partnerships. In May of 2009, Washington governor Christine Gregoire signed into law Senate Bill 5688 [wa.gov], the "everything but marriage" bill, which makes it so that within the state of Washington, domestic partnerships will have the exact same legal rights and responsibilities as married couples. Hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, power of attorney rights, the right to adopt and raise children... All the things that two consenting adults who love each other and are genuinely committed to each other oought to have. This bill did not in any way shape or form suggest that domestic partnerships should be recognized as marriages, though. (See this article [wa.gov] and the actual text of the bill [wa.gov]).

    And before someone tries to argue with me about the right to adopt... I'd like to point out that the reality of the situation is that there's tons of kids out there growing up in foster care, and that growing up in a home with 3-4 other children you aren't related to, some of whom were taken from their parents because the parents were neglectful or abusive, is known to frequently be a very traumatic experience. Whereas being raised by a gay couple would, at most, subject you to some teasing from other children at school.

    R-71 is an attempt to overturn SB 5688. Plain and simple. It has nothing whatsoever to do with gay marriage. It is not in any way shape or form related to any religious belief. Washington State has never contemplated the issue of gay marriage. I've seen plenty of conservative literature claiming that gays "already have all the same rights" so that the "attack on traditional marriage" has to be about something other than basic human rights.

    Well, at least in Washington, it very definitely isn't. (Oregon has actually had similar legislation in place for a few years now.) Gays are in no way shape or form interested in being allowed to legally use the word "marriage" to refer to our relationships here. We're only interested in having all the equivalent secular, legal rights. And R-71 is a vote about whether or not we should have those rights. But of course... There's a highly deceptive campaign going on with regards to it... And many of the people going in to vote on it may in fact have been led to falsely believe that they're voting on something related to gay marriage.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:32PM (#29809947) Journal

    Where exactly do you prefer to set the moral standard for marriage if not between a man and a woman?

    "Between any number of consenting adults of any gender" will do just fine, thanks.

    I agree there is nothing wrong with interracial couples under the premise a person has no control over their race

    So if people had control over their race, interracial marriages would be wrong?

    I'm also someone who believes a person *does* have control over their sexual preferences

    You're just wrong. You can also believe that Earth is flat and is 6000 years old (ouch, sorry, you probably do believe the latter), but that just marks you as intellectually deficient, nothing more. There's no scientific debate over the fact that at least in some cases homosexuality is inborn (as demonstrated by the fact that it's observed in wild animals). There may be some cases where it's not, but it sure as hell isn't all of them.

    should not get special treatment if they choose a preference that goes against societal standards

    Why do you keep thinking that your own misguided beliefs are "societal standards"? Or that giving gays the same rights straight people enjoy is "special treatment"?

    And it is those societal standards that continue to be tested in the West

    Do you mean "USA" when you say "west"? The issue is pretty much settled in other western countries, FYI.

    the people continue to show they are against gay marriage

    "A 2007 University of Washington poll found 73 percent of Washington Voters support legal recognition of same-sex relationships."

  • by bar-agent (698856) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:42PM (#29810169)

    However there can be other bad things that happen to you if it comes out that you voted one way on something when you'd rather keep that private.

    Yeah, and those bad things can still happen if sign a petition and your signature is made public. If you sign in support of something, you'll vote in support of something, and the bad guys will act accordingly.

  • Re:Petition - Voting (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jarik C-Bol (894741) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @01:52PM (#29811391)
    You make an excellent point. If i had mod points, i'd be modding you up.
  • Re:Turn the tables (Score:3, Informative)

    by skeeto (1138903) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @02:52PM (#29812433)

    Because marriage is a religious ceremony.

    My wife and I got married before a judge and the legal piece of paper we got for it says "marriage". All of the paperwork says this.

    So no, you're completely wrong. It doesn't matter how hard you wish it to be true because isn't. Here, a marriage is a civil contract that might happen to be celebrated in a religious setting. That means, like always in the US, religion can't legally be used to justify taking away people's rights.

  • Re:Turn the tables (Score:4, Informative)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:05PM (#29813475) Journal

    Your religion is not the only one, and the Constitution protects all religions equally. My religion recognizes same sex marriages, and performs said ceremonies. By denying me the right to call what my religion does 'marriage' you are infringing on my freedom of religion. Sorry, you lose and my right to religious freedom wins. Ahhhh, love that US Constitution, don't you?

    You guys keep setting them up, I'll keep knocking them down. You can't win. Especially in the long run. You know what your grandkids are going to think of you? Very likely, what the integrated grandchildren of racists think of them. The next generation simply is not frightened of homosexuality and sees no need to make this an issue.

    Just so you know, fifty years from now nobody will even understand how you could have held the position you do now. Bigotry is ending and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it in the long run. It's a done deal.

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