First Circuit Ruling May Force Disclosing Anti-Gay Marriage Donors
While we wait for the First Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the "big guns" challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, the court dealt with a related issue to gay marriage in a decision released on Tuesday.
Upholding a Maine law that requires groups that spend more than $5,000 on referendum advocacy to disclose the identity of donors that gave more than $100, the First Circuit held that the law provided fair warning of its reach, it was not overbroad and its $100 threshold was narrowly tailored to meet Maine's compelling interest in an informed electorate.
The First Circuit's decision may have effectively required anti-gay marriage donors to reveal themselves and reportedly clears the way for the state to conduct an investigation into whether the organization was raising money to influence the ballot initiative, according to Reuters.
The disclosure was vehemently opposed to by the National Organization for Marriage, which argued that revealing the identity of those who gave more than $100 would violate their First Amendment free speech rights. Further, the organization believes it is unfair that advocacy organizations should face the same disclosure requirements as political action committees and fears the repercussions of the "homosexual lobby," according to Reuters
"The homosexual lobby has launched a nationwide campaign to harass supporters of traditional marriage," said the National Organization for Marriage's attorney James Bopp Jr. "When they disclose who they are they can reasonably expect to be harassed."
The National Organization for Marriage has stated that it will be appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. It already has an appeal request pending in the Supreme Court stemming from another First Circuit order to disclose contributions to individual candidates.
- National Organization for Marriage, Inc. v. Walter F. McKee (First Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Mass. AG Martha Coakley Files DOMA Challenge Brief (FindLaw's First Circuit blog)
- DADT Repeal Effective September 20, DOMA Issues Linger (FindLaw's Ninth Circuit blog)