- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Petitions go public

Gay activists in Washington state are planning to publish the names of those who sign a petition in favor of repealing recently passed legislation that gives people in same-sex civil unions the same benefits as married couples.

The move is reminiscent of efforts to publicize names and addresses of donors supporting California’s Proposition 8. Those behind the new campaign, called who signed.com and Know Thy Neighbor, say once the names are submitted into public record they will make them “accessible and searchable” on the Internet. The purpose of doing this, they say, is to encourage people to have conversations about gay rights with those who sign the petitions.

“We know it’s a provocative strategy,” said Tom Lang, co-director of KnowThyNeighbor.org, “but if you want to hurt people and take people’s rights away, sign it, and we’ll have the argument.”

His group has used the same tactic in Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts and Oregon. It also plans to publish the names of those who signed previous petitions against gay marriage in other states, for “academic and historical reasons.”

Gary Randall, president of the Faith and Freedom Network and spokesman for a coalition of groups pushing the referendum, said, “There’s no question” the campaigns are designed to intimidate those opposing gay marriage.

“It’s clearly an attempt to intimidate people not to sign the petition,” Mr. Randall said. “It’s a very calculated and strategic step in the politics of personal destruction.”

He said gay activists have become very aggressive toward their opponents. He noted the backlash against Miss California Carrie Prejean for not supporting gay marriage during the question-and-answer segment of the Miss USA pageant, as well as the activists who used public records to create Internet maps of Proposition 8 donors, which many said was a form of harassment.

“This just keeps evolving downward,” he said.

Mr. Randall is hopeful the who signed.com campaign will backfire. “People were attacked in California because, frankly, these people are aggressive. People are aware of it, they read the news, so this will have some negative effect.”

Mr. Randall’s coalition, which includes such groups as the Christian Coalition and the Washington Values Alliance, will begin gathering signatures Wednesday. They’ll need more than 120,000 before July 25 in order to get Referendum 71 on the ballot.

‘Pro-life Taliban’

Dr. Warren Hern, a close friend of the slain Dr. George Tiller, made the rounds on cable news denouncing his friend’s death and laying blame squarely on what he called a terroristic pro-life movement.

“We don’t have to invade other countries to find the terrorists,” he told MSNBC’s Monica Novotny. “They’re here killing doctors who do abortions. The difference between - the main difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.”

In another segment on MSNBC with David Schuster later that day, Mr. Hern upped the ante, holding the GOP partly responsible for the killing.

“This was not the action of a single, deranged lone gunman, this was the result of 35 years of anti-abortion terrorism, vigilantism, harassment, intimidation and outright hate speech and rhetoric, which has been exploited by the Republican Party and the radical political right,” charged Dr. Hern, who also performs late-term abortions and reportedly has sought the protection of the U.S. Marshals Service. He runs the Boulder Abortion Clinic in Boulder, Colo.

“This is the inevitable outcome of those behaviors … . These people talk to God and carry guns. The do not respect the American Constitution or American laws or freedom or American society,” he said, going on to repeat the line he used earlier that day, verbatim, comparing pro-life Americans to the Taliban.

Neither MSNBC host challenged Dr. Hern’s assessment.

In another appearance, on CNN, Anderson Cooper warned Dr. Hern against assuming all pro-lifers were pleased that Dr. Tiller was killed, only to have the doctor insist that wasn’t true.

“No, that’s hypocritical nonsense,” Dr. Hern replied. “These people got exactly what they wanted. They’ve been trying to get the doctors killed. They’ve celebrated the assassinations of the doctors. They make shrines of it. The assassins are national heroes in that group.”

To the contrary, the Tiller slaying produced an avalanche of denunciation from the pro-life community, including Priests for Life, American Life League, National Right-to-Life, the Family Research Council, the Susan B. Anthony List, and others.

• Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@washingtontimes.com

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