A federal judge has kept sealed the names of donors to Washington's Referendum 71, which places the state's "everything but marriage" domestic partner laws before voters in November, the Seattle Times reports:
of those who signed Referendum 71, saying they likely are protected
under the First Amendment and that the state failed to prove a
compelling public interest in their release. U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle in Tacoma granted a preliminary
injunction today, blocking the state from making the petitions public…The Secretary of State's Office — the defendant in the case — has
said it is obligated under the state Public Records Act to release the
petitions to those who request them.
"But Protect Marriage argued that the law 'chills free speech …
particularly when it is reasonably probable that those exercising their
First Amendment rights would be subjected to threats and harassment.' Stephen Pidgeon, attorney with Protect Marriage, said: 'We think
this is a good decision. It protects Washington voters' right to speak
freely even in impassioned debate.' But Brian Zylstra, spokesman for Secretary of State Sam Reed, said the judge's decision 'is a step away from open government…When people sign a referendum or initiative petition, they are
trying to change state law,' he said. "We believe that changing state
law should be open to public view.'"
Yesterday, Washington Families Standing Together, a group which was attempting to block Referendum 71 from making the ballot, announced it would not appeal a decision by a Thurston County judge allowing the measure to go forward and instead work on a campaign to ensure the domestic partner law is retained.