Supreme Court blocks release of names on same-sex marriage petition

[JURIST] US Supreme Court [official website] Justice Anthony Kennedy [official profile, PDF] issued a temporary order [text, PDF] Monday prohibiting the publication of the names of those who signed a Washington state petition to overturn a state law giving same-sex partners the same rights as married partners. Kennedy's order, which reversed an order [text, PDF] issued last week by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website], prohibits the publication of signers' names until the Court orders otherwise. The petition, which gathered enough signatures to be placed on this fall's ballot, puts to a statewide vote a bill [text, PDF; JURIST report] passed in April by the legislature giving domestic partners the same legal rights and benefits as married partners. Protect Marriage Washington [advocacy website], which started the petition, worries that if the names are released, those who signed the petition risk persecution [AP report] from advocates of gay rights and that making their names public would stifle their First Amendment rights. Opponents of the petition argue that the public has a right to know who is behind the referendum. The state of Washington filed a response [text, PDF] Monday afternoon in favor of releasing the names.

In January 2006, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed [JURIST report] into law a gay civil rights act [HB 2661 text, PDF] that expanded the Washington Civil Rights Act to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in housing, lending, and employment. That law made Washington the seventeenth state in the nation to have an anti-discrimination law that covered sexual orientation. In April 2007, Gregoire signed domestic partnership legislation [text, PDF; JURIST report] that guaranteed gay and lesbian couples some of the legal rights that previously were afforded only to husband and wife including hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, and the ability to authorize medical decisions for their partner. The April law is seen by some as completing the grant of rights that the previous legislation had begun.

2:00 PM ET - The Court upheld [order, PDF] Kennedy's temporary order, blocking the release of the signatories' names. The order will remain in effect until the Court decides whether to grant certiorari in the case. Justice John Paul Stevens was the sole dissenter.

10/22/09 - The Ninth Circuit issued an explanatory opinion [text, PDF] in support of its previous order.



 

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