Supreme Court to decide if petitioners' names should stay private



Posted on April 26, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 26 at 12:56 PM

SEATTLE  - If you sign a petition, would you mind if your name was made public?

That's the crux of a case set to be heard before you the Supreme Court this week. 

Attorney General Rob McKenna will argue, on behalf on the state, that signatures can be released because they are a matter of public record. 

It all started after the failed Referendum 71 campaign.  Petitioners sought to reverse the "Everything But Marriage" act, which grants benefits to Gay and Lesbian Couples.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, after a request for a disclosure of the names, says the names should be released because they fall under the state's public records act. 

That touched off a legal fight that has now made it to the highest court in the land.

"If the public disclosure act is allowed to prevail," says attorney Stephen Pidgeon, "(People could) be open to employment discrimination, could suffer abuse, physical abuse, be targeted and have their neighboorhoods, names, and addresses put on mapquest."

Pidgeon, representing Protect Marriage Washington, is now traveling to Washington DC to make the argument in person.

"This is not a case about civil rights, this is a case about ethics, and honesty, and trasparency," counters Josh Friedes, with Equal Rights Washington.  "It's very important these signatures be public record, this is the only way we can check for fraud and forgery."

The hearing is scheduled for 7:00 a.m. Wednesday Morning.

It will be McKenna's third time arguing before the court.  He won his previous two cases.