Thursday, June 24, 2010

Does it Matter if Signatures are Released?

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.


  1. Over all, I agree that we need not be afraid to stand up for our principles. I also have no doubt such a disclosure can and will lead to some threats and actions taken against others.

    My fear isn't that those who are threatened or even harrassed won't be able to handle it, but that future efforts at such signature gathering on citizen petitions may be hampered as those who are not prone to take much of a public stand will not sign, concerned they might be included in any efforts to intimidate signers.

    Many people are supportive, but just not soldiers.

    Justice Thomas laid out a similar note when he issued a partial dissenting opinion when portions of campaign finance was struck down.

    Thomas, Partial Dissent

    I hope I'm wrong, but I can see where future citizen involvement in the process may be harmed.

  2. Signers of petitions range from the very bold to the very timid. Disclosing the names will eliminate those who can be intimidated thereby making it harder to get signatures on a controversial issue.

    Chrisitians are taught that their families come first. If those who oppose us can intimidate the families of signers, the training we have received to protect our families would dictate we not participate and let the bullies win. Not a good development.

    Most churches have already been adequately intimidated by the gays so they will not speak up. This gives them another excuse to remain silent, reasoning that "There has to be another ministry for us to pursue that does not lead to controversey."

    I do not fault the gay community for stealing our culture. Rather I fault the church for allowing them to take it.

    Philip Irvin

  3. Intimidation only works when people back off from what they believe and know is right and allow the intimidator to win. The LORD promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is always faithful, but are we??? All we have to do is look back to the people of faith mentioned in the Word of God to see our examples. Thank goodness David didn't let a mouthy, rather large man full of fear tactics and death threats intimidate him before the army of Israel. He trusted his God to intervene and intervene He did! The battles we are facing are monumental in this country, but we must hold fast to our unchanging God and remind ourselves continually that the battles are not our own, but they are the Lord's!

  4. I believe that this kind of thing could turn into something like the killing of abortion providers. Some of those of the liberal ilk (and perhaps the conservative, as well) are godless and crazy. If you have never seen one in rabble-rousing action, you have a lot to learn.

    It is all good and well to talk of the Lord's provision--and I don't discount that, but let's see how we feel when we're facing the gaping maw of a ravenous lion.