Ballot title for Minnesota same-sex marriage ban amendment creates controversy

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

 Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced last week that the title of the proposed state constitutional amendment banning recognition same-sex marriage (full text) that will appear on the November ballot will be “Limiting the Status of Marriage to Opposite Sex Couples.”  According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, backers of the amendment are furious. They had wanted the ballot title to read: “Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman”– the title chosen by the state legislature. Even though the legislature prescribed a title for the ballot measure, the governor vetoed the bill containing the proposed amendment. (Veto letter.) However the veto does not prevent the measure from appearing on the ballot because the Minnesota Constitution Art. IX provides that amendments are submitted to the voters by a majority of the members of each house. However apparently the portion of the bill setting the title for the ballot measure is treated as ordinary legislation so that the veto did invalidate that section. So then under Minnesota Statutes Sec. 204D.15, the choice of a title falls to the secretary of state, who must submit it to the attorney general for approval. Backers of the amendment believe that the new title may influence voters who do not like government restrictions to vote against the measure. They are considering whether to file a lawsuit over the title. [Thanks to Alliance Alert for the lead.]