Licensed to Speak

Run from any political group with "freedom" or "liberty" in its name

Licensed to speak:OK, here's a thought: The next time the Texas legislators want to propose a redundantstate constitutional amendment, maybe they should consider one granting Texans the right to free speech unfettered by government regulation--sort of like, you know, the First Amendment.

Why? Consider this: Two groups on either side of the campaign over Proposition 2, the anti-gay marriage amendment on the November 8 ballot, are facing election complaints for promulgating their positions. The Texas Freedom Network last month filed a complaint with the state's ethics commission against a nonprofit religious group that supports Proposition 2's ban on gay marriage, alleging that as a campaign group it must reveal its donors. Last week, the conservative Liberty Legal Institute filed a federal complaint against Save Texas Marriage, which opposes Proposition 2, over an automated phone message it put out claiming that the proposition is so vaguely worded that it could put straight marriages in jeopardy in the hands of "a liberal Austin activist judge."

Why, we wondered, are two groups with the words "freedom" and "liberty" in their names urging government bureaucrats to regulate political speech? The Texas Freedom Network's offices were closed late last week, but we were able to put the question to Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Legal Institute. "I agree with you. I think the regulation of political speech is mostly harmful," Sasser says. "It takes a lot to get me to want to file a complaint over something political."

"A lot" in this case was a message that was intentionally deceptive, Sasser says. Both the Texas attorney general and Proposition 2's legislative sponsor have said that nothing in the proposal's language would undo traditional marriage. Raising the specter of an Austin judge getting his "activist" mitts on marriage was designed to confuse voters. But isn't deception pretty common in political speech? This message was different, Sasser says, in that it was designed to trick voters into casting ballots against their own interests.

As much as Buzz hates Proposition 2, we agree that message was a little too tricky. So listen up voters: If you support an amendment outlawing gay marriage, you won't be incorrect if you vote for Proposition 2.

You'll just be a bad, bad person. --Patrick Williams

 
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