Friday, October 02, 2009

Judge: "Protect Marriage," sponsors of California's same-sex marriage ban, must release records

Protect Marriage, the sponsors of California's same-sex marriage ban, must hand over some internal campaign records to lawyers seeking to overturn the voter-enacted initiative, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled Thursday.

KTVU reports:
Denying a request to shield the information, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker said the Protect Marriage campaign had failed to show that providing private e-mails, memos and reports would inhibit the political activities of gay marriage opponents or subject them to unbridled harassment.

"The First Amendment qualified privilege proponents seek to invoke, unlike the attorney-client privilege, for example, is not an absolute bar against disclosure," Walker wrote in an 18-page order. "Rather, the First Amendment qualified privilege requires a balancing of the plaintiffs' need for the information sought against proponents' constitutional interests in claiming the privilege."

The judge agreed with lawyers for two unmarried same-sex couples who have sued to strike down the ban, known as Proposition 8, that confidential communications between the campaign's leaders and professional consultants could reveal a rationale for denying gays the right to wed that is relevant to the case.

The lawsuit argues that the measure was motivated by hostility toward gays and as such must be struck down as inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equality. READ MORE