The Supreme Court of the United States in an 8-1 Ruling AGAINST Doe v Reed on count 1, 1st Amendment Challenge to KnowThyNeighbor's Strategy of posting the names of signers of anti-gay ballot initiatives online (Note: these names are part of the public record and before KTN came along were released to anyone who asked). So in a nut shell, all but Justice Clarence Thomas agreed that KnowThyNeighbor has every right to post the names and that LGBT people's right to access of the 1st Amendment is not trumped by the fact that some anti-gay people feel uncomfortable that we know who they are.
I will let the major blogs dissect this victory for LGBT on the national level and I will even let the major LGBT organizations (many of which were against KTN) claim victory for themselves as the heart of the political machine needs to continue to pump regularly. But this blog post needs to remind LGBT people and other activists fighting for their place at this great American table, that once again "one or two" people can make a difference and produce change because of personal activism.
What led to Doe v Reed was a road tougher than KnowThyNeighbor has ever experienced. The anti-gay organizations such as Protect Marriage Washington blamed us for scaring signers away from participating in the Referendum 71 Ballot Initiative while the gay activists such as Joe Mirabella and Josh Friedes blamed us for causing more people to sign. This strange dichotomized contradiction pointed more to what was behind these organizations and how KnowThyNeighbor threatened their "campaigns" than to our quantitative effect one way or the other on the signature gathering process in Washington.
The value and importance of KnowThyNeighbor's success in Washington State can be seen in recent polling data indicating a rise by 15% in the public's acceptance of same sex relationships in that state. Of course KnowThyNeighbor's work was not the only factor responsible for this but the foundation of such a move in polls is directly in result of the continued conversation about our lives, our place, our families, our children. And KnowThyNeighbor with the announcement of our posting of names before the Referendum 71 Campaign, the conversation about the importance of our strategy during the campaign, the lower court lawsuits, Doe v Reed, the integrity of the petition process and the future "as applied" challenges (count 2 Doe v Reed) in lower court have kept the conversation going in Washington and on a national level since June of 2009 in news media, blogs and in political satire such as The Colbert Report. A crucial part of the success of our side in the Referendum 71 Campaign.
All of this and KnowThyNeighbor.org has not even done anything yet. All we did was make a public statement that we would like a copy of a public record in Washington State which in the past history of Washington had always been released to the public.
But this time something was different, we were gay and were part of the minority that has been the victim over and over again. This caused our oppressors to spend countless dollars to try to stop us and caused LGBT leaders such as Josh Friedes to once again condemn us because he and many in Gay Inc. find it so difficult to fight for our Equality without shame. But the biggest surprise was Pam Spaulding whose bi-coastal activist "Blender" Lurleen (aka Laurel of BlueMassGroup.com in MA) could not embrace activism right out of her own Dallas Principles but instead was used as a messaging center for a virtual campaign that like Maine would have failed to reach the masses if KnowThyNeighbor had not been involved.
But there were people that "got it" and got it they did. Brian Murphy of WhoSigned.org in Washington who is the reason why we made a move on that state. Arline Isaacson of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus who provided insight and provided an MGLPC Amicus Brief which was included in the SCOTUS Decision. GLAD, Lambda Legal, HRC, the Task Force, National Center for Lesbian Rights which provided an Amicus that called out by name KnowThyNeighbor's strategy as one of the only ways LGBT people can defend themselves against such initiative petitions, the various AG's offices nationwide for their joint Amicus, the other 28 entities and coalitions that supported our strategy, and of course the Supreme Court Justices whose questioning of the anti-gays in the opening arguments gave proof positive that these Justices, including Justice Scalia, searched KnowThyNeighbor's website in archive to understand our integrity and commitment to open, civil and respectful dialogue on LGBT Rights.
KnowThyNeighbor.org is assured that the lower courts will reject Count 2 of Doe v Reed, the "As Applied" Challenge and the 1st Amendment Rights of both sides of LGBT Equality will be secured. KnowThyNeighbor will begin processing the names of the signers of Referendum 71 to provide the public with access to this public database in a fully searchable format as soon as they are released by the Secretary of State of Washington. Currently KnowThyNeighbor.org lists the names of 850,000 signers of anti-gay referendums in Massachusetts, Florida and Arkansas.
Tom Lang, Co-Director