Darrell Crate, chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, appears to have made a back-room deal with sponsors of the anti-gay marriage petition to collect as many as 25% of the required signatures in exchange for access to the final database of names. Stacks of anti-gay marriage petitions attached to clipboards were handed out as early as September 22 at a Republican State Committee meeting.
MassGOP involvement in the anti-gay marriage amendment was not suspected to be this substantial as the Party is not an official supporter of the petition and many Republicans do not support the proposed amendment which is even more conservative than the one voted down by the Massachusetts legislature in September.
KnowThyNeighbor.org has been in touch with several angered Party members who feel that Crate's decision was made unilaterally and that he overstepped his bounds by not calling for a vote on the issue.
KnowThyNeighbor.org called Darrell Crate's office and spoke with MassGOP staffer Mark Rowe. When asked about involvement with the anti-gay marriage petition, Mr. Rowe initially tried to gloss over the issue saying that the Republican Party is very diverse and that the topic of same-sex marriage is "never discussed." He even went on to state that Darrell Crate respects both sides of the issue.
Upon being reminded that it was Crate who went door to door to Republican legislators during the 2004 ConCon's asking them to vote for the nastiest of the anti-gay marriage amendments, Mr. Rowe stated that Darrell Crate (who was hand-picked by Mitt Romney for his current position) was only acting on behalf of the Governor. As if Governor Romney isn't making a stand on the marriage petition now?
Emails sent from the Republican State Party Office reveal the depth of MassGOP involvement and ulterior motives.
From a September 25, 2005 email:
"We will be holding signature drives every weekend through November 13. We will be helping Vote on Marriage to collect the 65,825 signatures needed to move the gay marriage ballot initiative forward. If you would like to help with this effort, please contact the regional coordinator for your area."
And from a September 19, 2005 email by Matt St. Hilaire, political director for the MassGOP:
"The State Party’s goal is to identify thousands of voters statewide on a series of issues such as gay marriage, the tax rollback, illegal immigrant tuition, the death penalty, etc... We will then share that data with our candidates next fall so they can target these voters with very specific mailings and phone calls..."
So the gay marriage issue is never discussed? Give us a break!
When pressed, Mr. Rowe finally admitted to the Republican State Committee encouraging "grassroots activists" to get involved in the anti-gay marriage petition and he also defended the MassGOP's stance on databasing the names and addresses of the signers.
What is most disturbing is that the MassGOP seems to care much less about the substance of the issue than about getting the names for their database. Their emails make absolutely no reference to the social and moral arguments used by most petition backers. Instead, they make constant reference to the database and how it will be used to help Republican candidates target voters next year. I guess Darrell Crate could care less that thousands of families will be hurt by the amendment as long as he gets the names for his database?
By the way, take note that the same people who are so upset that KnowThyNeighbor.org is doing something so outrageous as allowing the public to have meaningful access to public information are themselves conspiring to create a secret database of names and addresses to be used as a means for disseminating mass propaganda in the upcoming election cycle.
Too bad for them that the database is likely to contain so many fraudulently obtained names that it will be useless as a true measure of voter sentiment. I guess that if you are going to sell your soul for votes, you shouldn't be suprised when you get screwed.
We encourage you to contact Republican State Senators and Representatives to let them know how you feel about the issue and to find out to what extent they are complicit in this secret deal. Contact the Democrats too to make sure they know what's going on and to urge them to talk with their Republican peers. If you know anyone that is a contributor to the Massachusetts Republican Party, let them know how their money is being spent and encourage them to contact Mr. Crate with their dissatisfaction: