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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Court Halts ID of Voters Who Fought Gay Rights

(CN)- The 9th Circuit has temporarily blocked an order compelling Seattle to release Referendum 71 petitions that would identify voters who disagreed with the city's domestic partnership law.

U.S. Judge Benjamin Settle made the call to release the names last week, falling in line with a June 2010 decision from the Supreme Court. An eight-justice majority had directed Settle to decide whether Washington's Public Record Act created an exemption that protected the identities of referendum signers.

R-71 was a failed attempt to quash a 2009 Washington law that granted domestic partners the same rights as married couples. Voters approved the law 53-47 percent.

After Settle concluded that R-71 signers did not meet the criteria for exemption, Protect Marriage Washington, as well as two anonymous plaintiffs and witnesses who signed the petition, asked the 9th Circuit for an emergency injunction.

A three-paragraph order entered Monday night grants a stop-gap injunction pending a decision from Settle.

"Although appellants moved for an injunction pending appeal in the district court, they neither sought expedited consideration of the same nor awaited the district court's consideration of the motion on the date noted in their motion," the order states. "This denial, however, is without prejudice to renewal, if necessary, following the district court's ruling on the motion for an injunction pending the appeal filed in the district court on October 17, 2011."

"To permit the district court sufficient time to consider the motion, the court grants temporary injunctive relief," the order continues. "Appellees are temporarily enjoined from releasing any further Referendum 71 petitions.

"This temporary injunction shall remain in effect for 5 days following the district court's ruling."

Co-state elections director Katie Blinn told Courthouse News, "We will certainly abide by the order of the court and not release further petitions until such time as we are legally able."

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