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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 13, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Ref. 71: Should signatures be public?

A signature, like a vote, is private

I want to thank Judge Benjamin Settle for the courage to stop the release of names of people who signed Referendum 71 [“R-71 signatures kept private,” page one, Sept. 11].

Even though I did not sign this one, as a private citizen I think of these petitions as a vote. In signing them, people are essentially voting for or against an issue.

In this country we keep our votes anonymous. If these names are released, everyone will be averse to ever signing a petition again for fear of retribution by the opponents of it.

I hope Settle has the intelligence to make this temporary injunction permanent.

— John Hed, Covington

Retribution is not free speech; signatures shouldn’t be disclosed

The threat of publicly releasing Referndum 71 signatures defines what’s wrong with today’s political discourse: self-interest.

I signed the petition not because I am against anybody, but because I believe in equality of opportunity rather than equality of result. I am 41, never married and sexually abstinent — not for lack of interest or desire but because of belief and conviction.

That said, I get no break on my health care for living a sexually risk-free life, nor do I enjoy the benefits of married couples or those living in domestic partnership. Equality of result would have me fight for those “rights.” Equality of opportunity informs me I will have those benefits, too, someday, should I marry the woman of my dreams.

I signed knowing someone might use my signature against me without knowing me or asking why. Disappointing for sure, but this is still America where we are free to take sides, free to speak up and free to love our neighbors when the dust clears.

I disagree with releasing R-71 names and making them public. Not because I am afraid, but because hatred, anger, retribution and political expediency should never be masked under the guise of free speech.

— Justin Kawabori, Redmond

Signing a referendum also supports direct democracy

As a teacher of Washington-state history I want to explain that not all the people who signed the petition to put Referendum 71 on the ballot oppose extending domestic-partnership rights.

I teach my students about the initiative and referendum process in my class, and we discuss what they will need to consider when they are asked to sign one.

What a citizen is agreeing to is that they want to have that issue come to a statewide vote. In this case, we may have people who signed it because they like direct democracy and believe citizens should be able to vote on as many laws as possible. Or people may have signed it because they believe a statewide vote will get rid of the law, or people may have signed it because they believe a statewide vote will keep the law.

My point is the assumption that all the people who signed it did so for the same reason is not true.

— Todd Beuke, Sequim

Comments | More in courts, Election, Families, Gay marriage, Gay rights, Politics, Republicans, State initiatives

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