National Organization for Marriage appeals ruling allowing release of donor list

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A national group that opposes gay marriage is appealing a federal judge's decision to uphold Maine's campaign finance disclosure law that could force it to reveal its list of donors.

Lawyers for the National Organization for Marriage filed their notice of appeal with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which already is considering another constitutional challenge of Maine's campaign finance law by the Virginia-based organization.

The National Organization for Marriage, or NOM, sued after the state ethics commission found that it could be required to disclose the identities of its donors.

Last month, U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby granted a summary judgment upholding Maine's campaign disclosure laws as they pertain to ballot committees.

Maine law says groups that raise or spend more than $5,000 to influence elections must register with the state and disclose their donors. NOM donated $1.9 million to Stand for Marriage Maine, a political action committee that helped repeal Maine's same sex marriage law.

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices still must conduct an investigation to determine whether NOM must turn over its donor list, the disclosure of which NOM feels would stymie free speech, said Josiah Neeley, an Indiana-based lawyer for NOM.

"Our view is even the investigation, or the possibility that these requirements would be enforced, creates a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights, not only of the National Organization for Marriage, but of other political groups that might want to get involved in a ballot campaign," Neeley said.

Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the ethics commission, said he was pleased that the state's disclosure laws pertaining to ballot committees stood up to scrutiny. "It lets the public know who's influencing them when the vote on ballot questions," he said.

Already pending before the Boston appeals court is a separate appeal brought by NOM of election law governing political action committees, independent campaign contributions and other attribution and disclaimer elements required by Maine's election laws.

In that case, Hornby upheld most of Maine's reporting regulations applying to political action committees. But he agreed with NOM that a state regulation requiring 24-hour disclosure of any independent expenditures over $250 is unconstitutionally burdensome.

NOM opposes same-sex marriage and has been involved in campaigns in Maine and other states. Maine voters repealed the state's same-sex marriage law in 2009.

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 's picture

Why hide behind a law?

If you have made a contribution for a cause that you support, what's the big deal about that being public knowledge? Got something to hide?

RONALD RIML's picture

Now let's get the Donor List for the MHPC -

Maine Heritage Policy Center which has been putting together the plans for Maine's new Administration.

Greg Rose's picture

What are they afraid of?

Violation of First Amendment rights? If one feels strongly enough about a cause to contribute large sums of money toward it, why would one not want to stand up and declare their support? And the answer is: To appear outwardly liberal (and thus accepted by those who actually ARE in support) and in support of same sex marriage while at the same time contributing lots of money behind the scenes to fight it (and thus acceptance by the secret society of contributors fighting this horrible scourge on society). Use your First Amendment rights as they were intended. Stand up and declare your support, or lack thereof, for an issue instead of hiding behind a lobbying group afraid to show your face.

And we all know what would happen if Same Sex Marriage is AGAIN legalized in Maine: the moral fiber of our very existence would rot away and Maine would need to be renamed Sodom... or Gomorrah... take your pick.

Judge Hornby issued a righteous decision: a decision that would be a step toward the transparency needed to expose the millions of dollars in out of state influence money at work here in Maine. Now... if only those out of state lobbying groups would stop spending their secretly donated dollars on legal defenses and just get down to their grass roots work of assuring that same sex couples are prevented from marrying and having all of the rights and benefits of a heterosexual couple.

What exactly is the LOGICAL arguement for fighting against same sex marriage? I have never really understood that. It always seems to come back to: "'Cuz God said so." Well, there are a significant number of us who do not beleive in god and do beleive in the right of consenting adults to marry who they choose regardless of gender. Not to speak for others, but I bet there are some folks that do beleive in God that back same sex marriage as well.


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