Washington AG to appeal Judge’s ruling to hide R-71 petition signatures

AG Rob McKennaThe Washington state attorney general’s office announced Friday it will appeal a federal judge’s ruling to keep secret the names of people who signed petitions calling for a public vote on expanded domestic partnership benefits.

Spokeswoman Janelle Guthrie says Attorney General Rob McKenna will ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the decision on a fast track, and in the meantime, he wants the appeals court to lift an injunction that blocks the release of the names.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ben Settle ruled that the Referendum 71 petitions should not be released because it would likely chill the First Amendment rights of petition signers. He said people have a right to participate anonymously in the political process.

Under Washington state law, the petitions are considered public records.

The referendum’s sponsor, Protect Marriage Washington, is hoping citizens reject the “everything but marriage” law passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

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