Ballot Wording Finalized in California Marriage Battle

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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 is good to go. 

Activist opponents of marriage equality opted Aug. 11 not to appeal the rewrite to the state Supreme Court.

Gay leaders and opponents agree the changed wording makes it more likely the amendment will fail at the polls Nov. 4.

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.” And 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 not fair or impartial. But a Sacramento superior court disagreed and a state appeals court later rejected an emergency appeal.

“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,” Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley determined. “The Attorney General's title is an accurate statement. … It is not argumentative or inherently prejudicial.”

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