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Proposition 8 Proponents Urge Court to Enjoin Campaign Finance Reporting Rules That Have Resulted in Extensive Harassment of Prop 8 Supporters

Contact: Frank Schubert, 916-448-4234

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 29 /Christian Newswire/ -- Acting on behalf of supporters of Proposition 8 who have experienced extensive acts of harassment including death threats, the ProtectMarriage.com - Yes on 8 committee today urged a federal court judge to issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting the state from requiring further disclosure of the committee's donors. The request was made before US District Court Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. in a federal court hearing in Sacramento. The Yes on Prop 8 campaign has challenged the constitutionality of California's campaign finance laws that compel disclosure of personal information of Prop 8 donors.

At today's hearing Judge Morrison C. England, ruled against ProtectMarriage.com - Yes on 8 committee denying their request for a preliminary injunction to protect the identities of those donors who have contributed $100 to $999 since October 18, 2008.

"We are disappointed that we did not receive the preliminary injunction," said Frank Schubert, Yes on 8 Campaign Manager. "But this fight is really about how donors to a future campaign will be treated. We are committed to ensuring that supporters of traditional marriage can do so without fear of intimidation and harassment."

"There has been a systematic effort to intimidate and harass donors to the Prop 8 campaign," said Ron Prentice, Chairman of ProtectMarriage.com. "The latest example of this is the publication by our opponents of 'Google Maps' showing the home or office location of Yes on 8 contributors. (see www.eightmaps.com) The message of this harassment is unmistakable - 'support traditional marriage and we will find you.' We are asking the federal court to stop this harassment and enjoin the state from forcing further disclosure of our contributors until the court can assess the constitutionality of California's campaign disclosure rules as applied to our committee."

The suit notes that groups such as Californians Against Hate (www.californiansagainsthate.com) exist for the primary purpose of identifying and taking action against supporters of Proposition 8. The suit cited numerous examples of threatening and harassing emails, phone calls and postcards suffered by supporters of Proposition 8, including death threats.

"The United States Supreme Court has held that when there is a reasonable probability that disclosure of contributor information will result in harassment of contributors to a political organization, the organization can be exempted from further disclosure of contributor information," Prentice said.

The suit alleges that California's Political Reform Act is unconstitutional on numerous grounds, including the right of contributors to exercise their First Amendment rights free from threats, harassment and reprisals. The suit also challenges the Act’s requirements that committees report all contributors of $100 or more as unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the First Amendment because it is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest. The $100 threshold has not been increased for nearly 30 years. The US Supreme Court has warned that contribution thresholds that are not indexed to inflation are vulnerable to challenge.

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Questions and Answers
ProtectMarriage.com – Yes on 8 vs. Bowen (Challenging California's Campaign Disclosure Laws)

Isn't this an attempt to shield large donors to Prop 8 from the public?

No. All donors of $1,000 or above have already been disclosed, as have all donors of $100 or more as of October 18, 2008. Only disclosure of those donors of $100 to $999 who contributed since October 18, 2008 are impacted.

Why should donors to Prop 8 be exempted from California's campaign disclosure laws?

The rights to privacy and freedom of expression of Yes on 8 donors has been violated and is entitled to legal protection under principles established by the United States Supreme Court. Hundreds of Yes on 8 contributors have suffered harassment, including death threats, as a result of contributing as little as $100 to the campaign. Opponents of Proposition 8 have created interactive maps showing the home or office locations of Yes on 8 contributors, and websites exist for the express purpose of encouraging opponents of Prop 8 to contact our contributors. The Supreme Court has ruled that contributors to organizations like Protect Marriage could be entitled to special legal protections as a result of this sort of harassment.

Doesn't the public have a right to know who is contributing to support Proposition 8?

Campaign disclosure laws must balance the rights of the public to know who is contributing to campaigns versus the rights of contributors to privacy and freedom of expression. The state's interest must be narrowly construed to protect the rights of contributors. California could provide public disclosure without subjecting contributors to harassment by limiting public dissemination of personal information such as a contributor’s home address or place of work. The disclosure laws were written before Identity Theft was such a concern and before the Internet and mapping technologies were available to disseminate the location of contributors.

What is wrong with disclosing the identity of people who contribute $100?

The $100 threshold is ridiculously low to trigger disclosure of extensive personal information. The threshold has not been increased in nearly 30 years. The US Supreme Court has ruled that thresholds that are not indexed are especially vulnerable to legal challenge.

What changes to the law would satisfy ProtectMarriage.com?

ProtectMarriage.com's primary focus in this preliminary injunction hearing is requesting an injunction against further contributor disclosure due to threats, harassment, and intimidation of its contributors by opponents of Proposition 8.

If large contributors have already been disclosed, what is the point of the lawsuit?

This is as much about protecting donors to a future campaign as it is to protecting donors to the Proposition 8 campaign. The unmistakable intent of opponents of Prop 8 is to intimidate donors so that they do not participate in a future campaign to preserve traditional marriage in California.

FACT SHEET

California's Campaign Disclosure Rules Have Resulted in Harassment of Hundreds of Contributors to the Yes on Proposition 8 Campaign

FACT: Hundreds of contributors to ProtectMarraige.com - Yes on 8 have suffered harassment as a result of contributing as little as just $100 to the campaign. Affidavits have been filed with the court detailing numerous examples of this harassment.

FACT: The harassment has ranged from insulting emails to death threats. Some people have been forced from their jobs. Others have seen their businesses targeted. Still others have had their personal information put on signs and flyers and distributed throughout their communities.

FACT: Opponents of Proposition 8 have created interactive maps showing the physical location of Yes on 8 contributors. Their homes or offices are mapped for people to find them.

FACT: Several websites exist for the express purpose of encouraging opponents of Prop 8 to contact our contributors.

FACT: The information that allows this harassment to occur comes directly from reports required by California's political disclosure laws.

FACT: All campaign disclosure laws involve the balancing of rights - the right of the public to know who is contributing to campaigns vs. the rights of contributors to privacy and freedom of expression.

FACT: The United States Supreme Court has held that when there is a reasonable probability that disclosure of contributor information will result in harassment of contributors to a political organization, the organization can be exempted from further disclosure of contributor information.

FACT: ProtectMarriage.com's primary focus in this preliminary injunction hearing is requesting an injunction against further contributor disclosure due to threats, harassment, and intimidation of its contributors by opponents of Proposition 8.

FACT: The $100 threshold for disclosure has not been increased for nearly thirty years. The US Supreme Court has warned that contribution thresholds that are not indexed to inflation are vulnerable to challenge.

FACT: All donors of $1,000 or more to ProtectMarriage.com - Yes on 8 have already been disclosed, as have all contributors of $100 or more as of October 18, 2008. The only contributors not yet disclosed are those who contributed between $100 and $999 since October 18th.

FACT: This lawsuit has as much to do with how the privacy of contributors to a future campaign will be respected as it does with the Proposition 8 campaign.