By Karen Gullo and David Watts Barton, Bloomberg, August 8, 2008
A ballot measure to ban gay marriage in California can go to voters in November, a judge ruled, over
the objection of an advocacy group that said state Attorney General Jerry Brown improperly changed its wording.
A group opposed to same-sex marriage sued the state claiming Brown’s changes to the measure’s title and summary — the first words voters see on their ballots — could sway Californians to vote against it.
State court Judge Timothy Frawley in Sacramento ruled today that the language isn’t “false, misleading, argumentative, or likely to create prejudice.”
The judge found that the ballot measure summary “is an accurate statement of what this proposition does,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, which supported
Brown’s wording change. “It eliminates the right of same sex couples to marry. It’s a shame that the other side is trying to confuse voters.”
California became the second state behind Massachusetts to legalize gay marriage when the state Supreme Court in May struck down laws banning the nuptials. The ballot measure, called Proposition 8, would amend the California constitution to say marriage is only between a man and a woman, voiding the court’s ruling.
The ballot’s title and summary originally said Proposition 8 “amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid, or recognized in
Brown re-wrote the wording to read that Proposition 8 “changes the California constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.” The old wording was written before the California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, so the changes were appropriate, Brown said.
The group Protect Marriage, proponents of the ballot measure, said it will appeal today’s ruling.
“The language in the Ballot Title & Summary for Proposition 8 is argumentative and seeks to negatively affect voters,” Andrew Pugno, legal counsel for Proposition 8, said in a statement. “Since the Superior Court would not exercise its authority to protect voters against misleading language, we will ask the Appellate Court to do so.”
The case is Jansson v. Bowen, Superior Court of California (Sacramento County).