“No one should have to worry about getting a death threat because of the way he or she votes.” Those are the words of James Bopp Jr., an attorney representing two pro-Prop 8 groups in their fight to keep their donor records anonymous. And ya know what? Bopp is right. Nobody should have to worry about threats to their life just because of the way they voted. Only problem? Nobody should have to worry about threats to their life just because of they way they were born, and as plenty of gay, trans, and bi men and women can attest, growing up queer usually accompanies a death threat.
Now, the way you were born and they way you voted … only one of those is a choice. So we’ve got very little sympathy for Prop 8 organizations trying to use litigation to hide their donor lists under the guise of possible death threats. Should anybody be calling for these people’s literal heads? No. But if they give money to support a cause that legally requires their identities be made public, should they be required to face criticism? Absolutely.
Here’s the gist of what’s going on via the AP:
Supporters of the ballot measure that banned gay marriage in California have filed a lawsuit seeking to block their campaign finance records from public view, saying the reports have led to the harassment of donors.
“No one should have to worry about getting a death threat because of the way he or she votes,” said James Bopp Jr., an attorney representing two groups that supported Proposition 8, Protect Marriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage California. “This lawsuit will protect the right of all people to help support causes they agree with, without having to worry about harassment or threats.”
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Sacramento, asks the court to order the secretary of state’s office to remove all donations for the proposition from its Web site.
It also asks the court to relieve the two groups and “all similarly situated persons” from having to meet the state’s campaign disclosure requirements. That would include having to file a final report on Proposition 8 contributions at the end of January, as well as reports for any future campaigns the groups undertake.
Which is, frankly, ridiculous. By donating money to fight Prop 8, these individuals were voluntarily adding their names to public records. They knew, before they signed a cheque, that their names were going to be added to a public tally of who donated to strip away the rights of Californians. And if they didn’t know? Perhaps they should’ve asked questions about where their money was going before following every demand of the Mormon Church.
ProtectMarriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage California want the donor records removed from public view; namely, the state’s websites. In a lawsuit hoping to accomplish it, they cite violent backlash from Prop 8 opponents:
The lawsuit filed Wednesday cites a series of incidents in which those who gave money to support Proposition 8 received threatening phone calls, e-mails and postcards. One woman claims she was told: “If I had a gun, I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter.”
Another donor reported a broken window, one said a flier calling him a bigot was distributed around his hometown and others received envelopes containing suspicious white power, according to the lawsuit.
The acts of violence? We don’t condone them. But making a public mockery of those who donated to support Prop 8? We’re kind of okay with it, since their cash helped fund an initiative that made a public mockery of every gay man and woman.
And here’s one of our favorite arguments from the lawsuit, according to the AP: “Businesses employing people who contributed to the Proposition 8 campaign have been threatened with boycotts.” Uh, yeah, that’s the point of making these records public. If you want to donate to a cause that marginalizes the queer community, you absolutely shouldn’t expect our dollars in your pocket.
If all that weren’t enough to keep these donor records public — and the names of those who donated money to fight Prop 8 should also remain public — here’s why it’s important to keep those names out there: Because it could limit the pro-Prop 8 organizers’ ability to raise funds to fight gay marriage again.
Supporters of the gay marriage ban fear the donor backlash will hurt their efforts to raise money in the future, perhaps to fight an initiative seeking to overturn the ban.
“Several donors have indicated that they will not contribute to committee plaintiffs or similar organizations in the future because of the threats and harassment directed at them as a result of their contributions … and the public disclosure of that fact,” the lawsuit said.