California's Proposition 8 (also known as Proposition Hate) has had a lot of controversy attached to it since the election last November. The measure was intended to prohibit gay couples from marrying and reversing the earlier court decision which made it possible in the state.
Supposition that voters were confused over the wording — a "yes" vote on Prop. 8 was, in fact, a "no" vote on same-sex marriage in California - has been only part of the controversy.
There was also a lot of criticism about the way the Prop. 8 campaign was funded. According to multiple reports, the Mormon Church, in particular, had put up a great deal of money for the campaign. But disclosure laws had made it difficult to determine exactly who and how the measure generated nearly $30 million in supporting donations.
Supporters of the measure had been asking that donors to the campaign be kept secret, saying they feared harassment if names of donating individuals and organizations were made public. A California judge disagrees, and the names will not be removed from public record.
It's unclear if the Prop 8 people will appeal; but certainly the battle over same-sex marriage in California is far from over.
According to a CNN report:
Supporters of the initiative, which was approved by voters in November, had sought a preliminary injunction to hide the identities of those who contributed to their campaign. They had asked the judge to block disclosure of late donors, who gave in the final weeks of the campaign or shortly after the election. They also asked him to order the state to remove the names of all contributors to Proposition 8 that already had been posted on the secretary of state's Web site.
U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. sided with the state. In his ruling from the bench, England said California's campaign disclosure laws are intended to protect the public and are especially important during expensive initiative campaigns.
"If there ever needs to be sunshine on a political issue, it is with a ballot measure," England said. He said many campaign committees have vague names, obscuring their intent. The public would have no way of knowing who is behind the campaigns unless they can see who's giving money, he said.
Supporters said public disclosure of their financial supporters had put the donors at risk. They argued that the initiative's opponents used the public lists to issue death threats, boycott businesses, accost people at their homes and engage in other forms of harassment.
Another 1,600 people will be put at risk of harassment or reprisals when the postelection campaign finance reports are released on Monday, said Frank Schubert, co-manager of the Yes on 8 campaign.
Disclosing donors' names will chill the ability of gay marriage opponents to run any campaigns related to gay marriage in the future, he said.
The judge said he didn't agree that the plaintiffs had a probability of success in court. He also said they had not proven that they would suffer "irreparable injury" if he did not grant the preliminary injunction.
The groups that backed Proposition 8, ProtectMarriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage California, said they did not immediately know whether they would appeal.
State attorneys said the plaintiffs did not qualify for a narrow exception to campaign-donation disclosure laws that the U.S. Supreme Court carved out in 1982. That ruling was designed to protect tiny groups such as the Ohio Socialist Workers Party, which had a history of being harassed by both government officials and individuals, the state said.
"This exception does not apply to a large, well-financed organization representing the views of several mainstream organizations such as the plaintiffs, who had over 36,000 contributors, garnered nearly $30 million in campaign contributions and whose ballot measure was passed by a vote of over 52 percent of the voters," Scott Hallabrin, general counsel for the FPPC, said in a statement.
"This fight is really about how donors to a future campaign (against gay marriage) will be treated," Schubert said. "We are committed to ensuring that supporters of traditional marriage can do so without fear of intimidation and harassment."
Supporters of gay marriage said it was hypocritical for Proposition 8 backers to bring the legal challenge. During the campaign, the initiative's supporters threatened boycotts against businesses that failed to donate to their effort, said Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, a gay-rights group that has been listing the names of Proposition 8 donors online and in some cases organizing boycotts against them.
"Now they complain of harassment?" he said.