Signers of Washington Anti-Domestic Partnership Petition About To Be Outed

If you sign a petition to take away someone’s right to be happy, do I have the right to know who just who is trying to take away that right?  Massachusetts-based, “Know Thy Neighbor” says I do.

In fact they are not only going to release the 130,000-plus names of those who signed on to the failed Referendum 71 in 2009,  but they’re even going to put  the names in an online searchable database. If it had passed RD-71 would have which would have  forced Washington to stop granting and  recognizing domestic partnerships in Washington.

Director Tom Lang  tells KUOW radio that the move, “allows gay people and their allies to search for individual signers they know and confront them. He gives examples of stories from other states.”

“About people who’ve been in people’s weddings parties and they’ve signed, people in families where the grandmother signed knowing darned well that her grandson was gay,” Lang says. “These are the types of conversations that are being had.”

The fascist group with the ironic name, ‘Protect Marriage Washington” is appealing the release with the Ninth Circut Court of Appeals. The group claims that “Know Thy Neighbor” is encouraging “intimidation and harassment.”

This isn’t the first time “Know Thy Neighbor” has released names of those who have signed anti-equality petitions.  The group says it has have “uncovered substantial amounts of petition fraud through its work. In Massachusetts, for example, thousands of signatures were identified as being either stolen through bait-and-switch techniques or forged outright, and the state launched both civil and criminal investigations.”

KnowThyNeighbor.org was founded in 2005 by Tom Lang, a gay married Republican, and Aaron Toleos, a straight married Democrat, with the goal of encouraging civil, respectful, and meaningful dialogue between citizens on both sides of gay rights issues.

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2 Responses to Signers of Washington Anti-Domestic Partnership Petition About To Be Outed

  1. In New Zealand 1985, the largest petition in the country’s history was mounted by the Salvation Army against the Homosexual Law Reform bill that was proposed by Labour government whip, Fran Wilde. At that time, 7 years imprisonment with hard labour was the punishment for sexual consummation of a homosexual relationship. Bizarrely, an even more severe penalty of 12 years applied to a landlord who knowingly would let living accommodation to anyone he know to be a homosexual.

    Several prior attempts had been made at reform and failed, so to have a million strong petition from a country of only then 3 million inhabitants seemed to sound its death knell. The bill, with an equal age of consent at 16yo for both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, incredibly nevertheless passed.

    How could the government ignore such a petition, that had on it, it seemed, every single eligible voter in the entire country? Here are the reasons:
    1. The signatories were public, so the media could track down and interview people to ask them why they signed
    2. here are some of the reasons why people signed:
    (a) My own grandmother was told she had to sign it in order to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS, so she signed it. When I explained to her that it was simply a measure to prevent me from going to jail for being with the person I loved, she immediately wrote a letter to the petitioners demanding that her name be removed.
    (b) Many other aged pensioners signed under comparable duress
    (c) Multiple instances of a single signatory: One young man approached in an Auckland street told the petitioner that he had already signed it in Hamilton, but was told, “that’s OK, you can sign as many times as you like”. Then he actually read the petition, and realising what it really was, he too wrote to have his name removed
    (d) Petitioner teachers handed out a copy of the petition to each student in all the classes that they taught, telling the students “please sign your name and put your address on this form”, without explaining to them that it was a petition against homosexual law reform. Many of these were children under the age of 12 (primary school)
    (e) Children were asked by some parents to stand at school gates to garner signatures from their mates as they left, and were promised a “new bike” if they got 1,000 signatures
    (f) Some people were threatened with dismissal from employment if they did not sign the anti-homosexual law reform petition. At my own mother’s place of employment, the petition was handed around by a workmate.
    (g) Some people signed other people’s names, typically members of their own family. One such person signed for every member of her family resident in New Zealand. An enterprising journalist spotted this, and phoned around, only to find that not all the other family members agreed with the petition, and were horrified that their relative had used their name and address without asking their permission. They too wrote to ask that their names be expunged from the petition.

    All in all, the million strong petition that was delivered to the New Zealand Parliament was one of the most massive frauds in political history, and was thrown out because of the numerous and egregious breaches. With the national publicity generated by the petition, and the fact that every citizen in the country had had the opportunity to sign it, the government decided to regard it as being tantamount to a referendum. However, when all the fraudulently obtained signatures were removed, the number of valid ones remaining was so small that the referendum substantially failed. The bill accordingly passed later that year, in accordance with New Zealand’s trailblazing reputation in being the first the grant universal suffrage to women.

    For these reasons, apart from exceptional circumstances where serious risk is likely to a person, it is absolutely essential that anyone who signs a petition is prepared to stand up and defend his/her commitment to the ethos of the petition.

    Had it not been for the openness of the NZ petition process, the hundreds of thousands of fraudulent signatories would never have been discovered by an alert media, and so I would still be a potential criminal in my own country.

    As a result of the Salvation Army’s actions, and with the heaviest of hearts, I withdrew all support and have never donated to them since.

    The accusation that homosexual activists will attack heterosexual signatories is beyond absurd. It is we who have been viciously and relentlessly attacked by homophobic heterosexists for centuries. Pervasive attacks have ranged from statutory discrimination, imprisonment and realignment torture, to religious and social disenfranchisement, ostracism, and extreme violence which in a large number of cases has resulted in life-changing injury, even death.

    We have far more to fear from the signatories than they ever had, or ever will from us.

  2. Pingback: Who Bought Prop 8? Court Rules Campaign Fianance Records Should Remain Public « The Idaho Agenda

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