December 27, 2012 at 8:00 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Year in review: Blade publishes names of petition signers
(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Blade’s decision to publish the names of the more than 100,000 Marylanders who signed the petition that prompted the state’s same-sex marriage referendum sparked outrage among opponents of nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins described this newspaper’s decision to publish the names of those who signed the petition as “nothing short of intimidation.” Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Action Counsel, accused the Blade of “homo terrorism.” The Blade also received threatening phone calls and e-mails after it published the names on its website on July 12.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley told the Blade last month when asked about the controversy that he didn’t know whether “I’m qualified to comment on journalistic ethics.” Transgender activist Dana Beyer also questioned the Blade’s decision to publish the names of those who signed the petition that were publicly available on July 12, but gay columnist Andrew Sullivan defended the Blade.

“Some argue that this is a tool for intimidation or a violation of privacy,” he wrote. “I’m afraid I cannot see that. Signing a political petition is a public act. If you are ashamed of trying to deny your fellow citizens their civil rights, you probably shouldn’t have signed the petition in the first place.”

Opponents of the same-sex marriage law eventually collected more than 160,000 signatures that prompted a Nov. 6 referendum on the issue. Maryland voters upheld the statute that O’Malley signed in March by a 52-48 percent margin.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • I can understand that there is some public information that it isn’t necessary to highlight–for example, the names and addresses of people arrested for giving or offering blowjobs in the park, even though I want to tell those guys to Get a Room. But Andrew Sullivan is right here. A ballot petition is a public document. How people who support putting my rights to a vote become the aggrieved party passes my understanding.

  • I am thankful to the Blade for publishing those names. I want to know which bigots are living in my neighborhood and in my community so I don’t support their hatred inadvertently by hiring them or using their products/services. THANK YOU!

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