Friday, October 16, 2009

Judge Rules Referendum 71 Petition Signatures to Be Released; POC Organizations Endorse 'Approve' Campaign

A three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California reversed a lower court's ruling Thursday and ordered the petition signatures that enabled anti-LGBT Referendum 71 to go on Washington state's November ballot to be released.

The conservative group Protect Marriage Washington plans to appeal. Their attorney Stephen Pidgeon said, "That particular group of judges saw the law one way; we'll take it to the next group of judges that may have the opportunity to see it the correct way."

Seattle Times reports:
In its brief order, the appeals panel said Settle used a wrong legal standard in granting a preliminary injunction that barred release of the petitions, and that the injunction therefore must be reversed. The judges said they would issue an opinion later explaining their reasoning.

Protect Marriage Washington had argued that petition signatures are protected free speech under the First Amendment, and as such should be shielded from public release. The group said it wanted to keep the petitions out of public view because it feared harassment from gay-rights supporters.

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Washington's Attorney General's Office, which represented the secretary of state before the Circuit Court panel, argued that voters had approved the Public Records Act and that signature gathering is a very public process — unlike the private act of voting.
In more good news, 31 organizations representing communities of color have endorsed the Approve Referendum 71 campaign.
“There isn’t just one type of family in our communities. We are a diverse community, with diverse families. They all deserve legal protections and to be treated fairly under the law especially during these times of economic uncertainty,” said Estela Ortega, Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza.

The organizations support the Approve Referendum 71 campaign because gay and lesbian couples need domestic partnership laws to provide essential protections for their families. Committed couples who want to take care of each other should be allowed to visit each other in the hospital, take family and medical leave when a loved one is seriously ill, and have insurance coverage. Families with children need the protections provided by domestic partnership laws, especially when a parent dies. There are gay and lesbian couples in our community whose relationships are not recognized by their employers, leaving them uninsured or ineligible to receive survivor’s benefits if one of them passes away.
Read this excellent post by Lurleen at Pam's House Blend on how to get fully engaged in the Approve Referendum 71 campaign. Also, go to Approve71.org and find out even more ways to protect Washington's expanded domestic partnership law.

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