FBI Investigating Harassment by Union-Trained “Petition Blockers” in Mass.

The Justice Dept. in Boston is investigating allegations of harassment by union-trained “petition blockers” aimed at a statewide pro-marriage organization. Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage (MCM) requested the investigation during a petition drive to amend the state constitution by defining “marriage” legally as “the union of one man and one woman.”

As supporters worked last Fall to gain enough signatures to get the amendment on the 2004 ballot, they and petition signers were allegedly pushed, yelled at, and spat upon by “blockers” who also wrote down the license plate numbers of petition gatherers. In a letter to U.S. Attny Michael Sullivan, then-MCM Chairman Bryan G. Rudnick charged that “training sessions were held at the Hotel and Restaurant Workers union facility at 58 Berkley Street, where activists were encouraged to report the locations of signature gatherers. A flyer with the home addresses of 18 of the leaders of the pro-marriage petition was also handed out at this ‘training’ session.” According to MCM officials, the FBI has informed them that an investigation is underway.

According to a number of legislators, the Mass. AFL-CIO has strongly lobbied the state House and Senate to keep the amendment off the 2004 ballot, even though MCM has gathered more than the required number of signatures. [MCM]