Ballot Wording Change OK’d in California Marriage Battle

California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s rewording of the title and summary of the ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to re-ban same-sex marriage got a green light from Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley on Aug. 8. 

The measure originally was titled “Limit on marriage. Constitutional amendment.” And it was summarized, :Amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

But afterward, the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, and weddings began on June 16.

Brown then retitled the measure “Proposition 8. Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry. Initiative constitutional amendment.” He summarized it: “Changes California Constitution to eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over the next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact to state and local governments.”

Opponents of same-sex marriage filed suit over the changes, saying they were neither fair nor impartial.

The court, however, disagreed, finding that “the Attorney General did not abuse his discretion in concluding that the chief purpose and effect of the initiative is to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.”

”The Attorney General's title is an accurate statement of the primary purpose and effect of the measure,” Frawley ruled. “It is not argumentative or inherently prejudicial.”

Opponents of the proposed amendment cheered the ruling, while proponents denounced it and filed an appeal. Both agreed the new language will make the measure more likely to fail on Nov. 4.

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