For Immediate Release
June 8, 2009
WHOSIGNED.ORG REFUTES INTIMIDATION CHARGES; WILL POST NAMES OF PETITION SIGNERS AS PLANNED
Seattle, WA - Despite criticism that making public information more accessible to the public amounts to intimidation, Whosigned.org and its national partner KnowThyNeighbor.org announced today that they will proceed with plans to post online the names of Washington citizens who sign the anti-gay petition known as Referendum 71.
"These charges of intimidation ring hollow," said Brian Murphy, director of Whosigned.org. "People should be directing their outrage at the movement to eliminate basic rights and protections for LGBT families, not at the gay community for using its democratic rights to protect itself."
Responding to criticism from within the gay rights community, Murphy said, "Some think that by asserting our rights as gay Americans, we make others feel uncomfortable. Well, I refuse to compromise the security of my family to make those attempting to dehumanize me feel more comfortable. I don't want to be nice. I want to be equal. And I want to be equal now."
While some allege that petition signers will become the targets of organized harassment, Aaron Toleos, co-director of KnowThyNeighbor.org, says, "Such claims are irresponsible, incendiary, and totally untrue. There is no organized plan to confront petition signers. In fact, we have never advocated for this and don't think it's constructive. No one is going to be knocking on random doors. It just doesn't happen."
What does happen, says Toleos, is that conversations are triggered between people that already have a personal connection like friends, relatives, and neighbors. "These conversations can be uncomfortable for both parties," he said, "but they are desperately needed to break down stereotypes and to help both sides realize how much they actually have in common."
KnowThyNeighbor.org has partnered with grassroots organizations to publish petitioner information in states across the country including Oregon, Arkansas, Florida, and Massachusetts. "Citizens approach petitions more thoughtfully once they realize it is a public document," says Toleos, "and we believe this makes the system stronger."
KnowThyNeighbor.org's website has also been pivotal in exposing petition fraud and has led directly to civil and criminal investigations.
While he acknowledges that some find it surprising to learn that petition information is a matter of public record, Toleos says, "Anyone that is honest about wanting a clean, transparent process should welcome the scrutiny that our website makes possible. And if they don't, you should wonder why."
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Brian Murphy, Director, Whosigned.org
(206) 313-1175 / email@example.com
Aaron Toleos, Co-Director, KnowThyNeighbor.org
(978) 821-4620 / aaron@KnowThyNeighbor.org
Tom Lang, Co-Director, KnowThyNeighbor.org
(978) 335-0477 / Tom@KnowThyNeighbor.org