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Calif. marr. amend. backers lose in court

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)–A California judge handed opponents of a proposed constitutional marriage amendment a victory Aug. 8, refusing to change what conservatives call “prejudicial” ballot language.

Amendment supporters say they will appeal.

The ballot title and summary — the exact language voters see on the ballot when voting — was changed recently by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, a Democrat, for what he said were realities in light of the May court decision legalizing “gay marriage.”

But amendment supporters charge that the language turned a neutral summary of the amendment into a negative one. The fear is that the amendment, known as Proposition 8, will lose votes based solely on the ballot title and summary.

“[T]he Court is not persuaded that the Attorney General’s Title and Summary is false, misleading, argumentative, or likely to create prejudice,” Judge Timothy M. Frawley wrote.

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 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.”

Amendment supporters said they remain convinced the ballot title is not neutral and is intended to “intentionally prejudice” voters.

“The ballot title is argumentative and not impartial,” Alliance Defense Fund attorney Joseph Infranco said in a statement. ADF is involved in the lawsuit. “The AG’s job is to apply the law in a way that’s fair to all Californians, not in a way that influences elections. We will immediately appeal the ruling because the purpose of this amendment is to protect marriage broadly as the union of one man and one woman.”

Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in June passed a resolution urging Southern Baptists in California to work and vote for the amendment and for all Southern Baptists and other Christians to pray for its passage. The resolution passed nearly unanimously.
Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor for Baptist Press. For information about the amendment, or to donate to the amendment campaign, visit ProtectMarriage.com (out-of-state donations are legal).

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