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You are here News Domestic (USA) Supreme Court case: Do gay rights foes have right to privacy?

Supreme Court case: Do gay rights foes have right to privacy?

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The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C. where a gay rights and privacy case will be heardThe Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday in a Washington state case in which religious conservatives fear retaliation from gay rights groups if the names of the 138,000 people who signed ballot petitions to overturn a same-sex domestic partnership law are released.

State officials say the Washington Public Disclosure Act, approved by voters nearly 40 years ago, requires the release of signatures on initiative and referenda petitions. Until now, no one had ever challenged their release.

Though Referendum 71 is at the heart of the legal dispute, the issues are far broader, including how open the state's initiative process will be. State officials also fear that if this challenge to the state disclosure law is successful, it will open the door to other challenges. "It's the public's right to know versus the right to privacy," said Secretary of State Sam Reed, who is named in the lawsuit. "It's exactly the type of case the Supreme Court likes."

Lawyers for Protect Marriage Washington, which sponsored R71, say gay rights groups in California have harassed and intimidated those who signed petitions for an initiative barring gay marriages in that state. They fear the same thing will happen in Washington state.

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