Hardball tactics on anti-gay marriage petition in Massachusetts
This activism is definitely on the edge, and is sure to start a big debate. Where do you stand?
Two gay activists are promising to post on the Internet the names and addresses of anyone who signs a petition that could lead to a statewide ban on gay marriage.
The move by Thomas Lang and Alexander Westerhoff, one of the first gay couples married in the state, came after state Attorney General Thomas Reilly on Wednesday certified a ballot question that bans gay marriage and civil unions.
Now, the question’s supporters must collect 65,825 signatures from registered voters, and approval from 25 percent of state lawmakers to get the question on the 2008 ballot.
Lang, 42, said the name, street address, hometown and ZIP code of everyone who signs the petition will be posted on the Web site KnowThyNeighbor.org.
“Everyone’s scrambling to know who in their town would sign this,” Lang told the Boston Herald. “And this Web site will give gay people the tools to know, to defend themselves and their families, to let them go neighbor-to-neighbor and say, ‘I don’t appreciate your signing this.”‘
“I’m going to be aggressive personally,” he said. “I want to know that the people I do business with are not against (gay marriage). This is going to be won by economics.”
Gay marriage opponent Kristian Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said the Web site is “intimidation by no other name.”
Anytime you publish the name and address of someone you run the risk of inciting some psycho to act out, and then the lawsuits start flying. Thank god they don’t ask for email addys on those petitions — the hellish spam would be a bear to deal with. That said, when signing a petition on legislation you are publicly releasing that information, so there are no grounds for privacy whining. From the web site’s mission statement:
KnowThyNeighbor.org is a grassroots, non-profit organization dedicated to removing barriers to public information by making it available online. If it’s public information, it should be simple for a member of the public to access it!
Initiative Petition # 05-02, The Constitutional Amendment to Define Marriage, represents a public political effort that could negatively affect the lives of many families, individuals, and children within the Commonwealth. By posting the names and addresses of the 65,825+ signers, KnowThyNeighbor.org is supporting the Democratic Process by providing the public with direct access to information that they are entitled to see and that is relevant to this controversial topic.
KnowThyNeighbor.org believes that the general public has the right to easy access of such information and makes no assertion as to how this information should be used by the public. This being said, the founders of KnowThyNeighbor.org, its support staff, and volunteers believe in equal marriage protection for all Massachusetts families and hope to encourage Civil and Legal Discourse on the topic.