Group fighting same-sex partnership with Ref. 71 petition for donor secrecy

OLYMPIA — Organizers of the Referendum 71 petition drive want names of their donors shielded from public view after a Bellingham blogger wrote of using violence against supporters of the effort to repeal a new gay rights law.

Protect Marriage Washington of Arlington is asking the state Public Disclosure Commission to redact or list only initials of contributors’ identities in documents posted online. It will consider the matter Aug. 27.

Everett attorney Stephen Pidgeon, in an Aug. 6 letter to commissioners, said the reasons for the request are “recent threats levied by opponents to the measure against the lives and property of principals.”

He included an excerpt of an Aug. 3 posting on the Queer Equality Revolution blog run by a man identifying himself as John Bisceglia of Bellingham.

In an exchange of comments on an effort to limit gay rights in Maine, Bisceglia wrote of the fight in Washington:

“I have a right to self-defend myself and my family with any means possible. I advocate using violence against the property of ALL of those who are working tirelessly to HURT my family; starting with churches and government property.”

Protect Marriage Washington turned in nearly 138,000 signatures for Referendum 71. This measure aims to repeal a new law granting same-sex domestic partners the same rights under state law as married couples with the exception of getting married.

If at least 120,577 signatures are of valid voters, it will be on the ballot in November. Signature verification by state election workers is expected to be finished next week.

The state Public Disclosure Commission’s Web site already contains names, hometowns and occupations of donors plus the amount of their contributions.

Pidgeon wants the names of donors already online and future donors to be kept confidential. Bisceglia is well-known by those behind Referendum 71. Pidgeon says the names of the donors will always be given over to the state.

Protect Marriage Washington leader Larry Stickney of Arlington asked the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to investigate Bisceglia for blog posts Stickney viewed as threatening to him and his family.

The complaint went to Whatcom County, where it was investigated by the sheriff’s office but no action was taken.

Postings on Bisceglia’s blog are also among documents filed in support of the group’s lawsuit to prevent public release of the names and addresses of the 138,000 people who signed the referendum petitions.

A federal judge has barred the release of names at least until a Sept. 3 hearing.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623,

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