Prop. 8 supporters deserve privacy

A federal judge recently ruled that the names and addresses of Proposition 8 donors must be made public.

Even within the conservative bubble of Orange County, many were shocked when California, a state with a legislature famous for being dominated by liberals, voted with a resounding âÄúYesâÄù on Proposition 8. Now, as gay rights activists prepare for the March 5 hearing regarding the constitutionality of Prop. 8, the supporters of the proposition have their minds elsewhere. They are concerned about their safety âÄî a federal judge recently maintained that the names and addresses of Prop. 8âÄôs financial supporters will be made public. Since our government is âÄúby the people and for the peopleâÄù it is true that campaign transactions should not be made in secret, but the matter of privacy becomes infinitely messier in the context of a measure as controversial as Prop. 8. It is probably no surprise to most Californians that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints donated more than $180,000 to ban gay marriage. Big shocker. However, there are also individual donors who served as key players in the success of Prop. 8 and would prefer to remain more discreet. Take the reclusive heir to the throne of Washington Mutual, billionaire Howard F. Ahmanson. He gave $900,000 to achieve his goal: âÄúTotal integration of biblical law into our lives.âÄù With this purpose in mind, Ahmanson found a friend in the radical evangelical Rousas John Rushdoony, whose book âÄúThe Politics of Guilt and PityâÄù advocated the stoning to death of homosexuals. Because Prop. 8 organizers emphasized that this measure will not harm gay people, Ahmanson, with his willingness to support controversial ideology, would do best to hole up in his Orange County oasis. AhmansonâÄôs radical past will not only put him in danger, but it will also endanger the thousands of contributors who raised $38 million to end gay marriage in California. Because of the highly sensitive nature of this issue, it is to be expected that once the personal information of these contributors is released, harassment will ensue. While our judicial system has recognized that Californians do have a right to know where political donations come from, it must also recognize that they do not have the right to know where to call and threaten donors, where to vandalize their businesses or where to follow their families. This is not to say that all those who oppose the measure that passed on Nov. 4 will resort to illegal actions. But there are some who have found responses such as boycotting and picketing not potent enough for their liking. One such group, Californians Against Hate , explicitly states on its website that it exists âÄúto draw attention to the major donors to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.âÄù With the emergence of these groups, as well as e-mails received by Prop. 8 supporters threatening, âÄúIf I had a gun I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter,âÄù it seems as if the inclusion of addresses will only serve as a tool in the completion of such frightening agendas. Once tactics of political intimidation come into play it is the responsibility of CaliforniaâÄôs law enforcement to handle actions that come in the wake of the disclosure of these names and addresses. But it is the hope of those on the list that there is still time to make confidentiality a priority for this and future cases. Now the thousands of Prop. 8 supporters and their families âÄî many of whom are now reconsidering their active involvement in California politics âÄî await the reaction of the many Californians who are still upset about the outcome of Nov. 4. This column, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Daily Trojan at The University of Southern California. Please send comments to [email protected]