Prop 8 backers want campaign reports kept private

Posted on 12 Jan 2009 at 1:48pm
By Steve Lawrence Associated Press

Gay marriage supporters call lawsuit hypocritical

SACRAMENTO, California — Opponents of gay marriage in California have filed a lawsuit seeking to block their campaign finance records from public view, saying some people who donated to the campaign have faced harassment.

"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 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 two groups had supported Proposition 8, which reversed a state Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage. It was approved by 52.3 percent of California voters on Nov. 4. The measure’s opponents have asked the Supreme Court to overturn it.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 7 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.

It 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.

Businesses employing people who contributed to the Proposition 8 campaign have been threatened with boycotts, the suit said.

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.

The secretary of state’s office and another defendant, the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, declined to comment Jan. 8 on the lawsuit.

But Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, the gay rights group that led the campaign against Proposition 8, called it hypocritical for supporters of the measure to try to overturn voter-approved campaign finance laws.

He said Proposition 8 supporters used campaign finance records during the campaign to threaten gay rights supporters. Before the election on Nov. 4, those who made contributions to the No on 8 effort received letters saying they should also donate to the campaign to pass the initiative or they could face repercussions.

Associated Press writer Juliet Williams contributed to this report.

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