'Prejudicial' language to stay on Calif. ballot

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — If a proposed California marriage amendment passes this fall, it will have to overcome what supporters call a "prejudicial" ballot title and summary.

After losing at a lower court and then at an appeals court, supporters of the amendment chose not to appeal to the California Supreme Court in an attempt to have the title and summary rewritten, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Monday was the deadline for court action; the voter pamphlet — which is mailed to every voter and provides arguments by supporters and opponents of each initiative — was due at the printer late Monday. The pamphlet includes the ballot title and summary.

"We intend to leave the final outcome to the voters," Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for the amendment campaign, ProtectMarriage.com, told the Chronicle.

If passed, the amendment, known as Proposition 8, would reverse the California Supreme Court's decision that legalized "gay marriage."

The ballot title and summary is the exact language voters see on the ballot when voting. Kerns and other supporters of the amendment assert that California Attorney General Jerry Brown, a Democrat, changed the title and summary from a neutral description to a negative one.

Brown changed the title to read, "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry" and the first sentence of the summary to read, "Changes California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry." The new ballot summary also says the amendment's fiscal impact would result in "potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars" to state and local governments over the next few years.

Prior to the California Supreme Court's May decision that legalized "gay marriage," the ballot title read, "Limit on Marriage," and the first sentence of the summary read, "Amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Marriage amendment supporters filed suit in an attempt to change the title and summary, but last Friday Judge Timothy M. Frawley ruled that he was not persuaded the title and summary were "false, misleading, argumentative, or likely to create prejudice." An appeals court refused to hear an emergency appeal.


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