Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fighting H8 in CA and beyond

Saturday's NY Times article, "Prop 8 Donor Web Site Shows Disclosure Law Is 2-Edged Sword" is an interesting article because it seems to pit political ideals of creating greater transparency with concerns for individual safety, but is this really the case?

The article is talking about the website, eightmaps, which has taken the names and ZIP codes of people who donated to the CA Proposition 8 ballot measure this past November and overlays the data on a Google map. The NY Times article asserts that several of the donors for Prop 8 have received death threats and their privacy has been violated, because of what eightmaps has done.

I think that all reasonable people can agree that threatening supporters of Prop 8 should not be tolerated. However organizing boycotts of businesses that donated to the proposition, raising awareness to educate and change perceptions and engaging the supporters of Prop 8 in reasonable dialog should be encouraged. This is considered political activism and is a virtue - not a vice. The NYT article seems to make such actions sound wrong when they write, "some donors to groups supporting the measure... have been boycotted." I'm not sure why this is a problem.

While those who crafted the CA Political Reform Act of 1974, which requires all political contributions greater than $100 to be made public certainly never envisioned the power of the internet, it does not mean that the reasons for passing the reform act should be reconsidered as the NYT alludes when they write, "most striking example of how information collected through disclosure laws... may be undermining the same democratic values that the regulations were to promote."

When MA legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, a website called, raised the ire of many who opposed gay marriage by publishing their names and addresses. The website actively encouraged Gays and Lesbians (and their supporters) to reach out to those opposing marriage equality in the state - not to threaten them but to engage in dialog. The court of public opinion played a HUGE part in finally legalizing same-sex marriage in MA and the same will be true for CA and the rest of the country.

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