TRO entered to prevent Wash. Secretary of State from Releasing Copies of Ref. 71 Marriage Protection Petition

Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom
1 South 6th Street
Terre Haute, IN 47807-3510

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Contact: James Bopp, Jr.
Phone: 812/232-2434; Fax: 812/235-3685;

Court Enters Temporary Restraining Order Preventing the Secretary of State from Releasing Copies of the Referendum 71 Petition; Wants to Hear Protect Marriage Washington’s Case

At a hearing on July 29, 2009, a United States District Court Judge entered an order preventing the Washington Secretary of State from publicly releasing copies of the Referendum 71 petition filed on Saturday. The order will remain in effect, granting temporary relief to more than 138,500 petition signers, pending a hearing scheduled for September 3, 2009 on the Plaintiffs’ request for a more permanent ruling.

James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for the Plaintiffs stated, “This is a sign that the Judge is taking this matter very seriously. Individuals must be allowed to debate the merits of Referendum 71 without having to worry about whether they will be harassed for offering an opinion.”

Larry Stickney, Campaign Manager for Protect Marriage Washington added, “Obviously we are pleased with the Court’s ruling today and are hopeful that the Court will enter a more permanent injunction.”

Protect Marriage Washington and two petitioner signers filed suit on Tuesday against the Washington Secretary of State to prevent the public release of the Referendum 71 petition. Two groups had threatened to publish the names and addresses of the petition signers in an attempt to intimidate individuals who signed the petition.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State continues the signature verification process. If Protect Marriage Washington submitted a sufficient number of valid signatures, the law commonly referred to as the “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law would not become effective unless a majority of Washington citizens voted to “affirm” the legislation.

Bopp added, “This ruling should provide some comfort to those who have signed the petition and were worried about being harassed.  We will continue fighting for the right of all citizens to speak freely, and hope that the Court will provide further, permanent relief to those who signed the petition.”

The case is before the Honorable Judge Benjamin H. Settle in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, at Tacoma. The case number is 3:09-cv-05456-BHS. Attorney Stephen Pidgeon (Bellevue, WA), an Alliance Defense Fund Allied Attorney, is serving as local counsel in the case.

James Bopp, Jr. has a national federal and state election law practice. He is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and former Co-Chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the Federalist Society.