Washington State’s Ref. 71 Petitioners to Have Names Posted Online
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:
Seattle, WA, June 1st, 2009 –
WhoSigned.org, a grassroots organization of Washington State residents, announced today that it would make the names of Referendum 71 petitioners looking to overturn the expanded domestic partnership law accessible online. The law would grant same-sex and senior couples (over 62 years of age) in state registered domestic partnerships the same rights as married couples.
The petitioners have until July 25th to collect the necessary 150,721 signatures, a minimum of 120,577 signatures plus a recommended buffer of 25%, to place Referendum 71 on the November 2009 ballot. If they are successful, the new law will not go into effect as expected on July 25th and could be overturned by voters on the November 2009 ballot.
WhoSigned.org will make the petitioners names accessible online once the petition has been verified by the Washington Secretary of State and has become part of the public record.
“This is about taking responsibility,” said WhoSigned.org director Brian Murphy. “Petition signers are choosing to prolong discrimination against fellow citizens who pay taxes, contribute to their community and care for their families. This can’t be allowed to happen in secret and without a frank public discussion. We hope that potential petition signers realize the serious consequences their actions will have on gay and straight couples and their families.”
WhoSigned.org expects Washington State’s pro-equality citizens to use its online tools to find the names of people they know, and talk with those people about the real world impact of their actions. “Conversations like these can be uncomfortable, but they are necessary for people to understand how vital these basic rights and protections are for gay and straight families alike.”
WhoSigned.org was originally formed in response to Referendum 65 which sought to overturn the bill establishing limited domestic partnership rights for same-sex and senior couples in Washington State. Referendum 65 failed to get the required signatures and no names were published online.
WhoSigned.org is partnering with KnowThyNeighbor.org, a national gay rights group that has worked with other grassroots organizations to publish petitioner information in several other states including Massachusetts, Florida, Arkansas, and Oregon.
the anti-equality folks are crying “intimidation!!!” over this, as they work tirelessly to debase LGBT people and strip us of our legal protections. As Dan Savage put it so well, The People I’m Persecuting Are So MEAN!.
p>I wrote a diary on this over at Pam’s House Blend. I hope you don’t mind if I just copy part of what I wrote over there:
p>It is important to remember that with referenda and initiatives, the voters are temporarily assuming the duty of legislators. Real legislators publicly co-sponsor bills, declare to constituents their position on bills and publicly debate bills in the legislative chamber. If voters are going to assume the mantle of legislator, they assume the responsibility of going on public record prior to the vote if they support a particular referendum. If you wouldn’t let legislators negotiate legislation in secret, you can’t be too up in arms when citizen legislators are required to act transparently. As Gay Curmudgeon says
Still, there is no denying that few voters have thought this through, and therefore may see WhoSigned.org as an affront. No surprise then to read this well-considered response from Equal Rights Washington in the Seattle PI
I tend to agree with Friedes in that it is more fruitful to talk positively to uncommitted voters than to potentially put petition signers on the defensive. But what’s done is done, and there is a silver lining. If petitioners gather enough signatures to qualify Referendum 71 for the ballot, the Secretary of State will release the signers’ names to the public and WhoSigned.org will prove useful in helping detect petition fraud by putting a searchable database online. Everyone wins when democracy happens in the light of day.
(I’m asking you because if I remember correctly you live in WA.)
p>Why is there a domestic partnership provision specifically for ages 62+. Shouldn’t they enter the same kind of union whatever is offered by the state to anyone else?
that this is to help older people who have deceased former spouse(s). if these couples marry, they lose the retirement benefits, etc. of the deceased spouse. not so if they just get a domestic partnership. for some people i suppose this allows for some double-dipping. for others (my dad is a perfect example), remarriage causes true financial hardship. this is a work-around for people like that. i know the washington senior citizens’ lobby was involved in getting domestic partnerships off the ground.
p>there very well may be more to it than this, but this is all i know or have surmised.
and ask me not to do this… Enough said on that.
p>Great post Laurel. Yes what KTN does is controversial and provocative and I understand that this is fodder for debate. Your comment however, “Everyone wins when democracy happens in the light of day” hits the nail right on the head. Thank you.
would it have made a difference if he did call you? ;-D
my point here was that if it were so bad, and that I did announce myself to Josh, over one month before his campaign started, that there was enough time for him to have tried to sell himself to me. We also announced ourselves to Maine, however, Betsy Smith and I had alot of conversation about strategy, not tactic–the tactic wasn’t the issue, the timing was (and probably not for reasons most BMG’ers would or should want to debate now). KTN will not be invovled in Maine.
Even when you say directly “a petition is a public declaration of your opinion on the subject at hand” some people will attempt to deny the truth. How curious and telling of the level of honesty we are dealing with.
believe in signing all petitions because they believe Duh Peepul should get to vote on as many things as possible. for that sort, signing the petition would not necessarily be an endorsement of the issue at hand.
and only openness and transparency will be able to bring it back. Initiative petitions in general are not usually used to take away people’s rights. “Just putting it on the ballot, because you claim that that is your reason for signing” is selfish, reckless and it forces the minority into having to run and fund a major ballot effort in order to protect or save its rights. In this case like in Washington, those who would claim this have no right to criticize their names being on the net. We should ask them, “if your family were under attack, if you and your children would unquestionably be hurt by a ballot initiative, would you put them at risk and allow the initiative to move forward with ‘your’ signature, just because you ‘like to put everything on the ballot’?”