Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Judge halts release of Wash. referendum [71] signatures

AP Wire - Washington | | News for Portland Oregon and SW Washington
A federal judge on Wednesday halted the release of a list of signatories to a proposed referendum that would overturn Washington state's domestic partnership law, in a case that raises questions on whether the state's open-government laws threaten free speech.

The temporary restraining order issued by U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle followed a request from Protect Marriage Washington, the political campaign challenging Washington's latest expansion of domestic partnership rights.

Gay rights supporters had planned to publish online the names of everyone who signed the petitions, saying they want to discuss the issue with petition signers. The petition information is a public record under state law.

That prompted Wednesday's court action, with the Referendum 71 campaign arguing that public release of the petition signers' identities would put them at risk of harassment, amounting to an unconstitutional infringement of free speech rights....

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