Opponents of domestic partnership law fight to conceal names

OLYMPIA — Opponents of the state’s expanded domestic partnership law are going back to court to try to block the release of the names of people who wanted the law overturned.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that generally, the release of petition signatures does not violate voters’ constitutional rights. However, the high court said Protect Marriage Washington could go back to the lower courts and try to prove that the release of their names would put them in danger.

Protect Marriage is now asking the U.S. District Court in Tacoma to continue blocking the release of the names and addresses of those who signed Referendum 71 petitions. Voters upheld the state law.

Papers filed by the group’s lawyer, James Bopp Jr. of the state of Indiana, indicate a hearing on the request is set for Friday. State officials said Tuesday there will not be a hearing this week.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle is not dealing with Bopp’s filing at this stage, David Ammons, communications director for the Secretary of State’s Office, wrote in an e-mail to reporters.

Settle is waiting for the paperwork on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would return jurisdiction to his courtroom, Ammons wrote.

At that point, Bopp could re-file his motions that are aimed at preventing release of the names on the referendum petitions, Ammons said.

Bopp has filed claims that supporters of repeal of the domestic partnership law received “harassing and threatening e-mails” and included as examples excerpts of some sent to Larry Stickney of Arlington, Protect Marriage Washington’s campaign manager.

It also quotes a Bellingham blogger who wrote online: “If Larry Stickney can do ‘legal’ things to harm OUR family, why can’t we go to Arlington, WA to harm his family?” That led Stickney to contact the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department though an investigation did not lead to any criminal action.

“What disgusts me in all of this is the lack of acknowledgement of the actual harassment that occurred,” Stickney said Tuesday. “It was a frightening experience to be the lightning rod in this.”

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