Top of Page


Join our
mailing list and keep up on the latest news!


Theatre, Music, etc.


July 2 , 2010

Justices rule for gay side on petitions, school bias codes

Washington, D.C.--The Supreme Court came out on the pro-gay side of two issues within a week, one concerning ballot petitions, the other non-discrimination policies of public universities.

The first of the two rulings came on June 24, striking down a bid to hide the petition signatures for a ballot measure last year to undo Washington state�s domestic partner law. (Voters retained the law in November.)

Protect Marriage Washington argued that releasing the signatures, required by state law, would have a �chilling� effect on people�s participation in democracy, leaving them open to harassment and retribution. They claimed that the release of the signatures therefore violated their First Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the perceived threat of reprisal was not enough justification to keep the signatures secret, that it did not present enough of a violation of First Amendment protections for freedom of speech.

The opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

�Public disclosure . . . helps ensure that the only signatures counted are those that should be, and that the only referenda placed on the ballot are those that garner enough valid signatures,� he wrote. �Public disclosure also promotes transparency and accountability in the electoral process to an extent other measures cannot.�

Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito both suggested that Protect Marriage Washington might be more successful making a narrower argument that the signatories would be susceptible to threats and intimidation, but Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, �Harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is a price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self-governance,� according to the Associated Press.

The second ruling, released on June 28, upheld public universities� ability to withhold recognition and funding from student groups that do not abide by the schools� antidiscrimination policies.

The case, which was settled on a narrower 5-4 margin, found against the Christian Legal Society in their lawsuit against the Hastings College of Law, part of the University of California-San Francisco.

The Christian Legal Society only permits voting members and leaders who affirm a strict �Christian� belief system, which precludes �unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle,� according to the New York Times.

The society claims that the school�s rule aninst LGBT discrimination violates their freedoms of association and religion. The school said that they are welcome to have their own standards, but without the university�s imprimatur, funding or other services given to �official� groups.

Justice John Paul Stevens, who is retiring, wrote in a concurring opinion, that organizations that exclude certain groups must be allowed to have a voice, but that society �need not subsidize them, give them its official imprimatur or grant them equal access to law school facilities.�

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a moderate, also concurred, writing, �A vibrant dialogue is not possible if students wall themselves off from opposing points of view.�




This material is copyrighted by the Gay People�s Chronicle. Permission is given to repost no more than the headline, byline, and one or two paragraphs, with the full name of the Gay People�s Chronicle and a link to the full article on our website. Reproduction of the entire article is prohibited without specific written permission.




The Web Gay People's Chronicle





Search WWW Search


Top of Page Go Back One Page

© 2008 KWIR Publications
Legal and Privacy Notices