November 16, 2011
By Jacob Combs
The Minnesota Independent has an illuminating piece this week about the claim made by Minnesota for Marriage, a traditional marriage group, that disclosing its donors could subject them to violence at the hands of marriage equality supporters. Minnesota for Marriage is bringing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to the ballot in 2012, but as the Independent points out, a series of court cases around the U.S. has shown just how dubious these claims of threats and violence really are.
We’ve seen this before in both Washington and California. In a trial decided earlier this fall, the NOM-affiliated group Protect Marriage Washington claimed in court that the signatures it had collected to put repeal of the state’s domestic partnership laws on the ballot should not be made public, since doing so would make those individuals the target of “militant homosexual activist groups.” In the court’s conclusion, Judge Benjamin Settle wrote the following:
Applied here, the Court finds that Doe has only supplied evidence that hurts rather than helps its case. Doe has supplied minimal testimony from a few witnesses who, in their respective deposition testimony, stated either that police efforts to mitigate reported incidents was sufficient or unnecessary. Doe has supplied no evidence that police were or are now unable or unwilling to mitigate any claimed harassment or are now unable or unwilling to control the same, should disclosure be made.
In California, a court challenge brought by NOM led Judge Morrison England to a similar conclusion. He ruled that other than the normal political activities (boycotting, protesting, voicing dissent) which characterize campaigns surrounding any sensitive issue, NOM could prove no substantiated acts of harassment or reprisals.
Now, NOM is at it again in Minnesota. Along with the Minnesota Family Council, NOM asked the Minnesota campaign finance board to loosen its disclosure requirements on campaign spending. The board rejected their application, and when it proposed new rules to close loopholes in ballot initiative reporting requirements, NOM announced that it would simply ignore those rules, which is, of course, illegal.
NOM likes to boast that it has never lost a ballot measure against marriage equality. A record to be less proud of is its success in court challenging campaign transparency rules. In addition to its failures on this front in California, Washington and Minnesota, NOM has also lost similar battles in Iowa, Maine, New York and Rhode Island.