Marriage equality foes were not only dealt a blow in Maine on Thursday, but in California as well.
US. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled on Thursday that the Protect Marriage campaign "had failed to show that providing private e-mails, memos and reports would inhibit the political activities of gay marriage opponents or subject them to unbridled harassment" and ordered them turned over to attorneys seeking to overturn Proposition 8.
The AP's Lisa Leff reports: "The judge agreed with lawyers for two unmarried same-sex couples who
have sued to strike down the ban, known as Proposition 8, that
confidential communications between the campaign's leaders and
professional consultants could reveal a rationale for denying gays the
right to wed that is relevant to the case. The lawsuit argues
that the measure was motivated by hostility toward gays and as such
must be struck down as inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution's
guarantee of equality…At the same time, the judge said the couples' lawyers must limit their fact-finding request to cover only central issues and individuals, including Mormon and Catholic church representatives who served on the executive committee that oversaw the campaign. He also left open the possibility that he would restrict public access to the documents."
Wrote Walker: "The First Amendment qualified privilege proponents seek to invoke, unlike the attorney-client privilege, for example, is not an absolute bar against disclosure. Rather, the First Amendment qualified privilege requires a balancing of the plaintiffs' need for the information sought against proponents' constitutional interests in claiming the privilege."
Protect Marriage lawyer Andy Pugno expressed dismay that the anti-gay "play book" might be opened:
"Giving the losing side of a campaign this level of information will
discourage anyone from ever attempting to use the initiative process in
the future, knowing that sensitive strategies will likely all become
public if they prevail. It just seems like Alice in
Wonderland for me, that we would get to a place that a consequence of
winning an election is that you would have to open your play book."
Especially scary if the play book is going to expose a bunch of rotten players.