A U.S. District Court judge this afternoon denied a request from Proposition 8 supporters to keep the names of donors secret.
Backers of the ban on gay marriage, approved by voters in November, argued that donors’ names should be suppressed from the public on an upcoming financial disclosure because of death threats made to previous donors. State Attorney General Jerry Brown was among state officials who argued against the exemption.
A decision has not been made on whether to appeal the ruling.
From the Associated Press:
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’s ever a need to bring 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.
The state’s Fair Political Practices Commission applauded the ruling.
“This clearly is a victory for the people of California and disclosure. The commission will continue to vigorously defend any suit brought against disclosure of campaign statements,” said Roman Porter, executive director of the FPPC.
Frank Schubert, co-manager of the Yes on 8 campaign, disagreed.
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 lawsuit sought a temporary block on the disclosure of names, while the court deliberated further on whether there should be a premanent shield. That temporary block required a reasonable probablity that the plaintiffs would prevail in the long run.
The judge said he didn’t agree that the plaintiffs had a probability of success in court, according to the Associated Press. He also said they had not proven that they would suffer “irreparable injury” if he did not grant the preliminary injunction.
Disclosure of the names and amounts contributed since the Nov. 4 election are set to be made public on Monday. Besides shielding those names, plaintiffs wanted to expunge the names of donors that had been released in earlier reports.
Laguna Beach’s Fred Karger, founder of Californians against Hate, said, “It is truly unfortunate that in the heat of a campaign donors are subjected to any undue attention. This has sadly been the case on both sides of last November’s highly emotional Proposition 8 campaign. But the law passed by the voters in 1974 has served our state well all these years and must remain in place.”