SACRAMENTO (CN) – Supporters of Proposition 8, the November ballot measure to restore marriage to heterosexual couples, have challenged Attorney General Jerry Brown’s wording of the ballot title, claiming the active phrase “eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry” is “inherently argumentative and highly likely to create prejudice.”
Brown, whose office prepares ballot summaries and titles, chose a title for Prop. 8 that is “completely different” from the one issued and signed by more than 1.1 million Californians, the measure’s supporters claim in Superior Court.
Proponents say the new title misstates their mission; they are not advocating the elimination of same-sex marriage, but the restoration of the definition of marriage that existed before the state Supreme Court’s May 15 ruling, in which the court struck down the “limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples.” The justices extended the legal definition and meaning of marriage to encompass all couples, not just “a man and a woman.”
But Prop. 8 proponents say Brown’s title for the measure embellishes the neutral “Limit on marriage” title with “amorphous, value-laden words.”
The lawsuit further claims that Brown’s linguistic maneuvering flies in the face of 50 years of statewide ballot pamphlets containing more than 250 initiatives, none of which begins with an active verb.
The suit claims it’s akin to rewording an initiative titled, “Death Penalty. Initiative Constitutional Amendment” to “Eliminates right of criminals against cruel or unusual punishment.”
The lawsuit asks the court to order a different, more neutral title.
Brown said he thought a second revision was unnecessary.
Prop. 8 supporters “can’t say with a straight face that this isn’t about eliminating the right to gay marriage, so what’s their problem with this?” Brown told the San Francisco Chronicle. “This is a political lawsuit, not one about serious legal issues.”