…Here We Go.
If the Court dipped its toes into the gay marriage debate through its ruling against the videostreaming of the Prop. 8 case, then the Court will step into the shallow end in April to hear Doe No. 1, et al., v. Reed, et al., a case arising from a petition to get an anti-domestic partnership referendum onto a Washington State ballot.
Here’s Lyle Denniston from SCOTUSBlog:
The Court’s vote to hear the case of Doe No. 1, et al., v. Reed, et al. (09-559) marked the second time this week that the Court opted to act on controversies involving opponents of gay rights’ claims that publicity about their political activity has led to threats and even some violence against them. On Wednesday, the Court shut down a plan to televise the federal court trial challenging California’s ban on same-sex marriage, displaying concern for the potential effect on supporters of that ban when they appear as witnesses at the trial.
The new case involves an effort to bring out in public the identities of individuals in Washington State who signed petitions to put on the state election ballot a referendum that would overturn a new state law extending the benefits of marriage (but not marriage itself) to couples registered as “domestic partners.” (That referendum failed, and the law remains in effect; voters approved the new law by a 53-47 percent margin last November.)
In taking the Washington case to the Court, the petition-signers’ lawyer said the confidentiality issue “is arising with great frequency across the country as changes in technology have made it possible for individuals and groups seeking to prevent public debate from occurring to obtain the names and contact information of petition signers and post that information online to encourage harassment and intimidation.” One group, the filing said, has posted on its web site information about gay marriage petition-signers in Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts and Oregon.