2005 Marriage Equality Rhode Island Rally

2005 Marriage Equality Rhode Island Rally by Jef Nickerson

A bit of good news in the marriage equality fight in Minnesota; the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board has decided that NOM (the National Organization for Marriage) can not keep the name of donors who give more than $1,000 secret. NOM was arguing that it by having to disclose their big money donors it would have a chilling effect and exposes these donors to harassment and possible property damage.

Now let’s be crystal clear on this, I am never, every going to support any kind of property damage for peoples political views. As fun as the idea of TP’ing and egging Rush Limbaugh’s house sounds, it is still not acceptable. However, being called out for your bigoted position on marriage equality, well that is fair game and anyone that supports an inherently un-American position of state sanctioned discrimination should be on the hook for it publicly.

This is an important win as the law up to now has been willing to shield donors, while at the same time equating speech with money. I disagree that money and speech should be equal, but if they must be, then there must be a clear line of sight to who is speaking. To be able to hid behind a 501(c)3 group is clearly not what the framers of the constitution meant.

At the time that the Constitution was ratified it was nearly impossible to publish something without it being widely known who was the writer and publisher. And obviously when people physically spoke, well there was no doubt as to who was making political statements.

The whole fight with NOM and the various forces of intolerance has been funded by groups that want to talk one way in public and another in private. That they have to face the disapproval of the members of their community because of their views is only fair.

After all would we be fine with White Supremacist groups buying add time advocating against interracial marriage? Especially if they were getting the massive amounts of anonymous funding the bigoted groups like NOM are getting to oppose marriage equality? I don’t think that the argument that it is chilling to their political point of view is going to carry any water, do you?

Which is not to say that I am interested in censoring anyone’s political speech. I think that you should have the right to say any damned fool thing that you think or believe about government. That is the intent of our 1st Amendment and it should be honored. At the same time I don’t support the ability to say it anonymously. Free speech means you say what you like, and others can say what they like about you because of it.

I do understand that on the internet people post anonymously for a lot of reasons, but there is a difference. Even in the biggest of blogs there is not a lot of state level or local level influence. I’d even bet that the national level of influence from the all blogs of all political opinions is less that a 2 million dollar ad buy, especially when it is in a single state on a single issue. For all that I believe in the mission of citizen journalists and activists, we don’t swing the kind of influence that TV ads do.

This is why the Minnesota campaign finance decision is a good and important one. You can give a bundle of cash to any group that you think does good work, but you should not be able to give it anonymously. If this is indeed political speech, and you want to have such a disproportionally loud voice that big stacks of cash gives then you should be known for your views.

For too long people like the Koch brothers have been major players in electoral politics, but they have been under the radar. That must end. If you want to have a major voice in the politics of this nation, then you should be known for your views. If those views are abhorrent to the public in general, say because you are a racist or bigot well, that is the cost of being influential. You really can not have one without the other, or at least you should not be able to.

The fight for marriage equality in Minnesota may or may not prevail, but if it does go down, at the very least we will be able to see who gave large amounts of money to keep bigotry legal and decide if we want to do business with the people gave those large amounts of money.

That too is part of free speech, being known to have the views you advocate for and having to deal with the way your neighbors feel about it. There are tons and tons of peace and social justice advocates who have been called Dirty Fucking Hippies for their deeply held views.

Well, if you are a Bloated Bigoted Bastard then you should have to deal with that label as well. If you are concerned about what your views might do to your standing in the community or your business, then you have the choice of keeping them to yourself. If one is unwilling to be known for what one believes, then it is probably best to stay out of politics.

The floor is yours.

Bill Egnor

Bill Egnor

I am a life long Democrat from a political family. Work wise I am a Six Sigma Black Belt (process improvement project manager) and Freelance reporter for Govtrak.org