Supporters of the ballot measure that ended same-sex marriage in California are fighting to put an end to harrassment against them since the ban was passed last November.
Protect Marriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage California, two supporters of Proposition 8, filed suit Wednesday to keep their financial records private.
Since Prop 8's passage, California's secretary of state's office and opponents like the Human Rights Campaign have publicly listed the names of donors who supported the ban. The list included complete names of individuals, businesses, and the dollar amount they each contributed to Prop 8.
Several supporters argue that the published list on the Internet enabled angry objectors to harass them because it gave out specific information on how they supported the measure. Others lost their jobs after gay marriage supporters threatened to boycott the businesses where they work.
Some even reported death threats, like one woman who was told "If I had a gun, I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter."
"No one should have to worry about getting a death threat because of the way he or she votes," James Bopp Jr., an attorney representing the groups said. "This lawsuit will protect the right of all people to help support causes they agree with, without having to worry about harassment or threats."
The suit asks for the secretary of state's office to remove the donation list from its Web site and for the two groups and "all similarly situated persons" to be allowed to keep their donations anonymous.
Currently, California's Political Reform Act requires all donations over $100 to be kept as public information. Some say the requirement borders the line of violating free speech.
"Our laws should ensure free participation in the democratic process, and not result in compromising the free speech and association rights guaranteed to all Americans," said Alliance Defense Fund Legal Counsel Tim Chandler. The Christian legal group is also serving on the case.
"Citizens shouldn't have to choose between being involved in the democratic process and subjecting themselves to acts of vengeance," he added.
Prop 8 defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Since its passage, several churches have also been vandalized, many of them Mormon, after the group was tied to making significant contributions to the campaign supporting Prop 8.
Source: The Associated Press, Alliance Defense Fund