Proposition 8 donors to be named

Friday, January 30, 2009

A federal judge has ruled that people who gave money to California's Proposition 8 campaign to ban gay marriage will have to be named.

U.S. district judge Morrison England Jr. agreed with a local court that California's 1974 Political Reform Act on political disclosure, which requires that the names of people and organizations donating over US$100 to political causes be recorded and published, applies to the Proposition 8 campaign. Proposition 8 advocates had argued that donors would be put at risk of harassment if their details were published. The state had already published a list of donors online but held back from disclosing "late donors" who had given money in the final few weeks of the campaign or after the vote had taken place.

Actress Whoopi Goldberg protests against Proposition 8 in New York
Image: David Shankbone.

Pro-Proposition 8 campaigners had said that a 1982 US Supreme Court ruling to protect narrow interest groups could apply to donors. State lawyers argued that the exemption could not apply to a large, well-funded and vocal campaign such as the one backing Proposition 8. If the Supreme Court's exemption was applied to this campaign, they argued, then it would effectively exempt most if not all campaigns from disclosure laws. Pro-Proposition 8 groups are still deciding whether to appeal to higher courts.

Californian voters approved Proposition 8 on the same day as the general election in November, overturning an earlier state supreme court ruling that opened marriage up to same-sex partners statewide. According to Wikipedia's article on same-sex marriage in California, 4,037 same-sex marriage licences were issued in the period June to November 2008. Several celebrities took the opportunity to marry their partners before the Proposition passed, including George Takei and Ellen DeGeneres.