Nameless in Seattle – The anti-gay signers of the petition to put Referendum 71 on the ballot apparently didn’t think before they acted. Washington earlier passed a law providing domestic partnership benefits, a measure that has been described as “everything but marriage.” Apparently that got a little too close for comfort – signature collecting began to put a measure on the ballot to allow voters to decide whether or not they approve of the legislated benefits, thus protecting marriage once and for all.
Nameless in Seattle
The anti-gay signers of the petition to put Referendum 71 on the ballot apparently didn’t think before they acted. Washington earlier passed a law providing domestic partnership benefits, a measure that has been described as “everything but marriage.” Apparently that got a little too close for comfort – signature collecting began to put a measure on the ballot to allow voters to decide whether or not they approve of the legislated benefits, thus protecting marriage once and for all. It didn’t take too long for signers of the petition to realize that, under Washington’s Public Records Act, the petitions would become public record, which would make the names and addresses of those that signed the petition accessible to anyone (KnowThyNeighbor.org & WhoSigned.org had pledged to post the information on the internet once it became accessible). Protect Marriage Washington filed suit to keep this information private, believing that making the information public as required by law “chills free speech … particularly when it is reasonably probable that those exercising their First Amendment rights would be subjected to threats and harassment.” Translation: they know their position is unpopular and want to hide behind masks while taking away legally bestowed rights from others. Let’s see…what group in history is well known for hiding behind masks and depriving a minority group equal rights and equal protections under the law? Think white sheets and pointy hats. Although the petition drive was successful in placing the measure on November’s ballot, the case has been like a ping pong ball through the courts – release, appeal; don’t release, appeal – and, at present, the names are not going to be released.
Raids and Gay Panic
We all remember the raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth, Texas on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. The raid was characterized as a scheduled inspection that went wrong when several patrons made inappropriate gestures toward officers, including one patron grabbing an officer’s crotch. The “routine check” resulted in seven arrests for public intoxication and one man being sent to ICU with a head injury. The police chief later implied the gay panic defense by citing the allegations of sexual harassment and assault of the officers involved. Another gay bar, the Eagle in Dallas, was closed two weeks later due to an incorrect address on its liquor license – it has been reported that the Eagle has been operating at that address, mere steps from its previous location, for years. More recently the Eagle in Atlanta was raided and 62 people detained and made to lie on the floor due to, according to police, past illegal acts and permit violations (rumored to be not having a license for dancing). Eight employees were arrested, including one that was off duty and in his apartment above the club. None of the patrons, who were reportedly searched and had background checks completed on them before they were released, were arrested. A protest was held at City Hall last weekend.
“Hail Mary” Pass
Maine became the fifth state to allow same-sex marriage in May; efforts to repeal the law began immediately. The measure to repeal the law will be on Maine’s ballot and National Organization for Marriage (NOM, of the “Storm” ad fame) and Stand for Marriage Maine (SFMM), a group backed by the Catholic Church, have been in a fundraising and casting furor in their efforts to repeal the law. The bishop in Maine recently urged churches to take up a second collection in church to support SFMM. Both organizations are facing charges of money laundering, allegedly for accepting contributions and recording them as having been made by someone else to skirt Maine’s campaign reporting law.
Birthers, deathers, tenthers (those who claim the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prevents the government from doing practically anything it wants to do), teabaggers and other as yet unknown varieties of crazy have set the stage for the unbridled nuttiness we’re seeing every day. There was a great deal of discussion last week about President Carter acknowledging contextual racism as a factor in the protests we’ve seen lately, but I think Carter is missing the bigger picture. The LA Times last week reported that some GOP insiders are observing what they describe as a “purist” climate developing on the fringe that they feel is fracturing their party; David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, said in the same article that much of what we are seeing are “wild accusations and the paranoid delusions coming from the fever swamps.” Racism is but one element of bigotry – signs of homophobia, xenophobia and religious discrimination are apparent as well – which is fracturing not only the GOP, but civil society as well. Just as all of these people have deluded themselves about the causes they’re fighting, they’ve deluded themselves into believing their reasons are not based on bigotry. Let’s hope the fever breaks soon.