Maine law that could reveal anti-gay marriage donors upheld

Wed Feb 1, 2012 3:02pm EST

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(Reuters) - A federal appeals court upheld a Maine law that could reveal the donors who financed a $1.8 million movement that helped overturn the state's gay marriage law.

The court rejected arguments from the National Organization for Marriage that being forced to disclose donors who backed the effort was a violation of First Amendment speech rights.

The court's decision on Tuesday means the National Organization for Marriage, which advocates that marriage be defined as being between a man and a woman, could have to reveal the names of people who gave more than $100 to its campaign efforts against same-sex marriage in Maine.

The Maine law says that groups that spend more than $5,000 "for the purpose of initiating or influencing" a referendum must disclose the names of their donors.

The decision by a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston clears the way for the state to conduct an inquiry into whether the group was indeed raising money to influence the ballot initiative.

A lawyer for the conservative group said it would appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Maine's legislature legalized same-sex marriage in 2009 but the law was overturned that same year by a "people's veto" in a referendum 53 percent to 47 percent.

As part of that campaign, the Washington D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage steered hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to Stand for Marriage Maine.

The group's lawyer, James Bopp Jr., said it was unfair that advocacy organizations should face the same disclosure requirements as political action committees.

"The homosexual lobby has launched a nationwide campaign to harass supporters of traditional marriage," he said. "When they disclose who they are they can reasonably expect to be harassed."

Thomas Knowlton, Maine's assistant attorney general, said the state was pleased that the constitutionality of the law had been upheld.

The same court ruled against the National Organization for Marriage last year in a related case involving disclosure of contributions to individual candidates. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to hear that case by the end of the month.

Same-sex marriage proponents have collected more than 100,000 signatures to put gay marriage back on the Maine ballot again this year.

In neighboring New Hampshire, which legalized gay marriage in 2009, Republicans who control super-majorities in the state legislature are considering a bill that would repeal same-sex marriage.

Six states plus the District of Columbia currently recognize same-sex marriage: New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Iowa. Washington's senate was expected to approve a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in that state on Wednesday, and that state's governor also was expected to sign the bill into law.

(Reporting by Jason McLure; Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Paul Thomasch)

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Comments (4)
NOM is a well-known anti gay hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. How did they get on this list?
“Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.”
NOM was mercilessly parodied for it “Gathering Storm” video which spread falsehoods regarding Marriage Equality. Several people speak in vague generalities. One women states, “My freedom will be taken away” but doesn’t say how that could possibly be. Another woman says, “Those advocates want to change the way I live” but doesn’t explain how. Another woman says, “I will have no choice” as if she will be forced to marry a lesbian. Other people bring up issues that actually have to do with the anti discrimination laws in CA, NJ and MA and not marriage equality. At the end is a bit about “protecting” marriage, negating the fact that civil rights belong to all citizens. That civil rights belong to all is what actually needs protecting, not marriage itself.

NOM is supposedly non profit, but Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown have made hundreds of thousands of dollars spreading lies and hate.

Often when a name sounds wholesome as in NOM, reality shows it is just the opposite. American Family Association, American Vision, Concerned Women for America, Dove World Outreach Center, Family Research Council, Family Research Institute, Illinois Family Institute, Liberty Council are some of the sweet sounding names that appear on the SPLC list of anti gay hate groups. They are all in the business of collecting money to use in their “work” of propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling.

Ref: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/winter/the-hard-liners

Feb 01, 2012 3:39pm EST  --  Report as abuse
NOM is a well-known anti gay hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. How did they get on this list?
“Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.”
NOM was mercilessly parodied for it “Gathering Storm” video which spread falsehoods regarding Marriage Equality. Several people speak in vague generalities. One women states, “My freedom will be taken away” but doesn’t say how that could possibly be. Another woman says, “Those advocates want to change the way I live” but doesn’t explain how. Another woman says, “I will have no choice” as if she will be forced to marry a lesbian. Other people bring up issues that actually have to do with the anti discrimination laws in CA, NJ and MA and not marriage equality. At the end is a bit about “protecting” marriage, negating the fact that civil rights belong to all citizens. That civil rights belong to all is what actually needs protecting, not marriage itself.

NOM is supposedly non profit, but Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown have made hundreds of thousands of dollars spreading lies and hate.

Often when a name sounds wholesome as in NOM, reality shows it is just the opposite. American Family Association, American Vision, Concerned Women for America, Dove World Outreach Center, Family Research Council, Family Research Institute, Illinois Family Institute, Liberty Council are some of the sweet sounding names that appear on the SPLC list of anti gay hate groups. They are all in the business of collecting money to use in their “work” of propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling.

Ref: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/winter/the-hard-liners

Feb 01, 2012 4:11pm EST  --  Report as abuse
“The homosexual lobby has launched a nationwide campaign to harass supporters of traditional marriage.” What? No they haven’t. NOM keeps saying that, but it isn’t true according to courts who have heard the cases.

Last October, a federal judge in Sacramento, U.S. District Judge Morrison England, Jr., ruled that NOM and the pro-Proposition 8 group ProtectMarriage.com, a coalition of religious conservatives, was not exempt from state disclosure rules and therefore ineligible to keep their donors secret.

“First, while Plaintiffs characterize their evidence as voluminous and comprised of ‘virtually countless reports of threats, harassment, and reprisals’ … they have pointed to relatively few incidents allegedly suffered by persons located across the entire country who had somehow manifested their support for traditional marriage,” England wrote in his opinion in ProtectMarriage.com v. Debra Bowen, which was filed on Nov. 4.

“In addition, the vast majority of the incidents cited by Plaintiffs are arguably, as characterized by Defendants, typical of any controversial campaign,” continued England. “For example, picketing, protesting, boycotting, distributing flyers, destroying yard signs and voicing dissent do not necessarily rise to the level of ‘harassment’ or ‘reprisals,’ especially in comparison to acts directed at groups in the past. Moreover, a good portion of these actions are themselves forms of speech protected by the United States Constitution.”

Further details and some fantastically amusing examples can be found in the original HuffPost story:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/national-organization-marriage-court-lgbt_n_1089982.html

Feb 01, 2012 4:21pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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