Thoughts from the Executive Director
Last year, the Washington State Legislature passed a law granting same-sex domestic partnership legal equivalence to heterosexual marriages. Those who opposed the law collected enough signatures to allow the voters to either approve or reject the law. Amid threats of intimidation, a lawsuit was filed to keep the names of those who signed the petition private.
Today the United State’s Supreme Court held, in an 8-1 decision, that public disclosure of referendum signatures does not generally violate the first amendment’s guarantee of free speech. The court did not decide the signatures must be disclosed, only that disclosure does not automatically violate the First Amendment. In the coming months, a judge will determine whether the facts surrounding Referendum 71 justify keeping the signatures private.
While the final answer has not been given, this might be the time for those who signed Referendum 71 to ask themselves, “Does it really matter?”
In a myriad ways, we are making decisions as a culture that will define us forever. We are facing unprecedented financial problems. Traditional notions of right and wrong are being redefined by those who find them offensive. Our freedom is evaporating at an unprecedented rate.
This struggle is taking place in a political arena where the victory goes not to whoever has the best arguments, but to whoever is most committed to their beliefs.
Consequently, our commitment to our beliefs is being tested. Our concern over the disclosure of signatures could be an indication of our commitment.
At this moment, those who oppose the redefinition of marriage are in the awkward position of claiming that they will be less likely to speak up if their names are made public. I can’t help but wonder how John Hancock would feel about that argument.
Of course, violence and threats of violence have no place in civil public discourse. To the extent that it has occurred or does occur, it should be dealt with. Still, my true concern is that those who claim to be commitment to timeless truth would wilt at the mere threat that their position would become public knowledge. Didn’t a wise man once say something about not hiding your candle und a bushel?
If mean-spiritedness is sufficient to silence those of us who say we are committed to Truth, principle, freedom, and the family as God designed it, then I submit to you that we were never really committed to those things. Instead, we just claimed to be, while committing principally to something else; perhaps our own comfort.
This country was founded by people who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor in pursuit of freedom. If freedom had enemies then, should we be shocked that it still has enemies now? If our forefathers felt obligated to give everything for freedom, should we reasonably expect it to cost us nothing?
In the coming months we will learn whether the names on these petitions will be made public or not. Still, those who stand to be “outed” need to ask themselves if it really matters. For the sake of our future, I sure hope not. If it does, then we have already lost.