by Steve Lawrence, AP writer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Supporters of the ballot measure that banned same-sex "marriage" in California have filed a lawsuit seeking to block their campaign finance records from public view, saying the reports have led to the harassment of donors.
"No one should have to worry about getting a death threat because of the way he or she votes," said James Bopp, Jr., an attorney representing two groups that supported Proposition 8, Protect Marriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage California. "This lawsuit will protect the right of all people to help support causes they agree with, without having to worry about harassment or threats."
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Sacramento, asks the court to order the secretary of state's office to remove all donations for the proposition from its website. It also asks the court to relieve the two groups and "all similarly situated persons" from having to meet the state's campaign disclosure requirements. That would include having to file a final report on Proposition 8 contributions at the end of January, as well as reports for any future campaigns the groups undertake.
Proposition 8, approved by 52.3 percent of California voters on Nov. 4, reversed a state Supreme Court decision allowing homosexual marriage. The measure's opponents have asked the Supreme Court to overturn it.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday cites a series of incidents in which those who gave money to support Proposition 8 received threatening phone calls, e-mails and postcards. One woman claims she was told: "If I had a gun, I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter." Another donor reported a broken window, one said a fliyer calling him a bigot was distributed around his hometown and others received envelopes containing suspicious white power, according to the lawsuit.
Businesses employing people who contributed to the Proposition 8 campaign have been threatened with boycotts, the suit said.
Supporters of the homosexual marriage ban fear the donor backlash will hurt their efforts to raise money in the future, perhaps to fight an initiative seeking to overturn the ban.
"Several donors have indicated that they will not contribute to committee plaintiffs or similar organizations in the future because of the threats and harassment directed at them as a result of their contributions...and the public disclosure of that fact," the lawsuit said.
The suit said courts have held that laws requiring disclosure of campaign contributions can be overturned or restricted if a group can make "an uncontroverted showing" that identifying its members can result in economic reprisals or threats of physical coercion. California's Political Reform Act, which voters approved in 1974, established disclosure requirements for candidates and campaign committees.
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