some thoughts on Referendum 71 so far

I haven’t written anything here for almost a month. Among other things that kept us busy, Alec and I observed the signature verification process of Referendum 71 along with a group of great volunteers. It was a longer than expected and grueling process. We were only able to do some two hour shifts because we aren’t able to stand for longer than that. Living in the state capital town, we had it much easier than folks who were commuting from Seattle.

I was surprised that it is going to the November ballot, and sorry that the court challenge failed.

And now I am deeply disturbed by the attempt to hide the signatures of those persons who signed Ref. 71 from being public, as signatures on Washington State ballot initiatives have been.

I’ve been reading some about that and today I found two articles that are encouraging because they are about Washington state attorney general Rob McKenna’s upcoming appeal in the court regarding this:

SEATTLE — The Washington state attorney general’s office says it is appealing a federal judge’s decision to keep secret the names of people who signed petitions calling for a public vote on expanded domestic partnership benefits.

Read: Wash. to appeal ruling in gay rights referendum
By GENE JOHNSON (AP) September 12, 2009

And this:

Rob McKenna: “Just as we don’t run our legislative processes in the House and Senate in secret, it’s not appropriate to operate the initiative and referendum process in secret.”

McKenna says Judge Benjamin Settle’s ruling sets a bad precedent.

Read: WA AG Appeals Judge’s Ruling Sealing R-71 Petitions
BY AUSTIN JENKINS – Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Olympia, WA September 11, 2009

This reminds me of a quote I have always loved in a book my father bought for me before he died. Here is that quote:

How shall we bear ourselves in this great movement? What part shall we play in it? I cannot say what part will fall our lot; but whatever it may be, let us remember that we can do nothing which may bring discredit to our cause or dishonor to our people. If we are to be India’s soldiers we have India’s honour in our keeping, and that honour is a sacred trust. Often we may be in doubt as to what to do. It is no easy matter to decide what is right and what is not. One little test I shall ask you to apply whenever you are in doubt. It may help you. Never do anything in secret or anything that you would wish to hide. For the desire to hide anything means that you are afraid, and fear is a bad thing and unworthy of you. Be brave, and all the rest follows. If you are brave you will not fear and will not do anything of which you are ashamed.

On page 6 of Glimpses of World History by Jawaharlal Nehru — a collection of 196 letters Nehru wrote from prison during the British rule in India to his young daughter Indira.

… Never do anything in secret or anything that you would wish to hide. …

Yeah, a message that rings as true now — and holds what I think is an important truth for this specific issue.

I would never sign a ballot initiative for something that I was not willing to be public about, and I question the integrity of anyone who would want to hide theirs, and anyone who acts to hide those of a whole group of persons.

What are they afraid of?

Now we face a vote on this in our November ballot, and the election ballots will be in the mail soon.

Please be sure to mail in your ballot and vote to APPROVE Referendum 71 and affirm retaining Washington State’s domestic partnership law.

See Washington Families Standing Together for more information & resources.

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