Alex Blaze

Why do homophobes want to keep their names secret?

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 29, 2009 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: bisexual, campaign finance law, domestic partnership, laws, lesbian, LGBT, Maine, marriage, New Jersey, Question 1, r-71, states, Washington

Fundies continue to try to shield the names of their donors, a trend that, as far as I know, started in 2008 in Florida well before the elections. In Maine, a judge told them NOM they have to disclose their donors while the trial proceeds (I'm going to guess that means he saw little merit to their claims). But I also found this story yesterday from Washington, which I almost glossed over because I knew that they were suing to keep petition signers' names secret, not donors, since they haven't really raised all that much money. But, well, there ya go:

Family PAC wants a federal judge to declare unconstitutional the state's public-disclosure laws, which limit to $5,000 contributions from businesses and individuals made within 21 days of the election.

The laws also require campaigns to disclose names and addresses of those who donate more than $25. Those contributing more than $100 must also include their employers' names and addresses, as well as their occupations. The suit seeks to keep all that information from being disclosed.

The group acknowledges that there are substantial contributions the campaign wants to accept but can't because of the limits.

I'll ask the question that I've asked every time one of these groups tries to shield the names of donors: just whose name are they trying to hide? And, more to the point: who is telling them they'll donate boatloads of money so long as their name isn't disclosed?

They can't play the Prop 8 card, as much as they'd like. In both Maine and in the Washington trial to keep the signatures secret, the homophobes said that they don't want to disclose because the gays were so mean after Prop 8 passed that disclosure laws keep these people from participating in the political process. It's an idiotic argument, since the worst that's happened to regular Joes and Janes who've tried to participate in the process is that they've received a few sternly-worded postcards, and it's been rejected by several courts.

But you've gotta wonder about the timeline. Here's something Waymon posted back in October of 2008:

Florida Red & Blue's complaint demonstrates this attempt to conceal donors and improperly influence the election is intentional. A confidential September memo by Stemberger obtained by Florida Red & Blue requests support for Florida Family Action over Florida4Marriage in part because donations are "Confidential."

Amendment 2 sponsors are today running TV ads in Orlando and Tampa. These ads, funded with $350,000 from secret donors, also appear to illegally mislead voters by including notice that the ads are paid for by "" when they were paid for by another entity. Media outlets in these markets report ad buys from when it appears funding actually came from the secret Florida Family Action.

Because of the ads and the attempt to shield donors from disclosure, Florida Red & Blue also today requested criminal investigations by State Attorneys in jurisdictions where legal violations may have occurred - Leon, Orange, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

Their fundraising email blasts showed them promising to keep donors' names secret, and they couldn't have pointed to Prop 8 fall-out to show a need to be kept secret. These folks already wanted for their names not to be released long before they knew that the gays would be sending postcards to donors.

These laws exist for a reason, and, theoretically, there should be just as many people on the Approve R-71 side who want their names to be kept secret as there are people on the Reject side.

And, if we take reality into account, there should be a lot more people on the LGBT side of one of these amendments concerned about their names getting out than on the homophobic side. These amendments still win, and having one's name on a list of likely homosexuals available to possible employers probably deters people from donating to a campaign. It does happen - in fact, Fred Karger, who's been leading the charge to publicize these names in Maine, was himself the target of someone who wanted him dismissed from his job because he donated to the pro-gay side of the Briggs Initiative.

I imagine it's larger businesses or businesspeople who want to donate to the homophobic side of a campaign but depend on LGBT customers for their livelihood. Perhaps some of them know they're on the wrong side of history here and don't want this coming back to haunt them down the line. Or maybe there's something bigger going on here.

Either way, what we know now doesn't explain this behavior.

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Your point about gays and lesbians being more exposed is a good one.

In a recent Pew Poll 64% of respondents said that gays and lesbians experienced "a lot of discrimination" - the highest of any group in the study. And per capita gays and lesbians experience the second highest rate of (FBI reported) hate crimes at 13 per 100,000 people behind those of the Jewish faith at 15 per 100,000 people.

In Washington State we have an online Domestic Partnership Registry where you can search for and find the ~97% of those registered who are same-sex couples (~3% are senior opposite sex couples).

Yes, these couples are findable on the web and that carries some risk, but there are good policy and administration reasons which justify the public disclosure. Just as there are good reasons to seek transparency of an initiative and petition signature process that is used to strip rights away from couples and families and prolong discrimination.

Same-sex couples accept this openness as the price we pay to get our second class domestic partnership rights and responsibilities. Petition signers seeking to strip even those few rights away need to show similar understanding and acceptance of their place in a public legislative process.

Every time I hear about this I think about all the religious people I've heard over the years boldly state their anti-gay beliefs and considered it a badge of honor that they proudly cling to their "traditional values". The end result was the stifling of people's sexuality and a hostile environment for LGBT people and their allies. Now that the tide is turning suddenly folks are scurrying to hide their disdain for us because they might lose friends and/or money. Tough shit.

If people are so proud of their traditional values, it's time they stood out there and took the heat for their beliefs. You're not much of a Christian if you need public opinion on your side to stand by your principles.

Ed White, Knoxville | October 30, 2009 10:53 AM

Wonder what the right-wingers would say to putting their "right" to secrecy on a ballot initiative?

Because they know what they're doing is shameful and don't want to be on the "Bull Conner" list 30 years from now to forever shame their descendants with the knowledge that Grandma was a bigot.