Amendment on Nov. Ballot Gives Californians ‘Final Say’ on Marriage

Daily News Article   —   Posted on June 4, 2008

(by Randy Hall, CNSNews.com) – Voters can reverse or affirm the California Supreme Court ruling on same-sex nuptials when they decide the fate of an amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified the amendment — which says that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” — on Monday after receiving 1,120,801 signatures calling for the initiative to be included on the ballot in the Nov. 4 general election.

Representatives of pro-family groups quickly hailed the certification as proof that California’s voters favor keeping the “historic definition” of marriage, while proponents of same-sex marriage declared that “the fight of our lives is here.”

To qualify for the ballot, the measure needed 694,354 valid petition signatures, which is equal to 8 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the November 2006 election. The marriage definition amendment — which has been approved in 26 other states so far — qualified through a random sample signature check.

“We’re so grateful to the over 1.1 million voters who signed the marriage petition in time for the November election,” said Ron Prentice, CEO of the California Family Council and chairman of the ProtectMarriage.com coalition sponsoring the amendment, in a news release on Tuesday..

“Passing this amendment is the only way for the people to override the four Supreme Court judges who want to re-define marriage for our entire society,” Prentice added.

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the California Supreme Court decided in a 4-3 ruling on May 15 to overturn Proposition 22, a state ballot initiative that passed with 61 percent of the vote in 2000 and banned same-sex marriage in the state.

“The vast majority of research continues to state that California’s voters favor keeping marriage as it is, protecting its historic definition between only a man and a woman,” Prentice added. “Californians are a tolerant people, but we also know that marriage is between a man and a woman, as the voters reaffirmed just a few years ago.”

Mathew Staver, founder of the conservative Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, told Cybercast News Service that the amendment’s certification should have an even more far-reaching effect.

“Now that we know for certain the California Marriage Protection Act will appear on the November ballot, the California Supreme Court must stay its decision,” said Staver, who noted that the stay should be issued before June 17, when California is slated to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Joining Staver’s call for a stay of the ruling until after the Nov. 4 election are the attorneys general from Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, author of the brief, said that the states involved were concerned that homosexuals would flock to California for same-sex marriages and return to their home states to demand recognition, only to have the legal definition of marriage changed again by a constitutional amendment.

“We reasonably believe an inevitable result of such ‘marriage tourism’ will be a steep increase in litigation of the recognition issue in our courts,” Shurtleff wrote.

Nevertheless, “the people of California will have the final say on marriage” in their state, Staver noted. Regarding the outcome of the Nov. 4 balloting, he said: “I have no doubt that when the people vote, they will affirm marriage as one man and one woman.”

However, Geoff Kors, executive director of the Equality California Issues Political Action Committee (PAC), said on the group’s Web site that while members of the homosexual rights organization had been anticipating the amendment’s certification for several weeks, “we now know for sure that the fight of our lives is here.”

“To win, it’s going to take everything we have as individuals and as a community,” Kors continued. Calling for donations from supporters of same-sex marriage, he stated that “this campaign is going to cost us millions.”

“We are confident we will win in November — but we simply can’t do it without your help,” Kors added.

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the Associated Press that “gay marriage” advocates have already launched a campaign to defeat the measure.

“There is just so much at stake now, in terms of what kind of state we are going to live in and what values we are going to uphold,” Kendell said.

Meanwhile, the conservative Campaign for Children and Families (CCF) is asking county clerks across the state not to use the new marriage license application forms, which replace the terms “bride” and “groom” with “Party A” and “Party B” designations.

“We’re encouraging the clerks to abide by the express will of the written California Constitution and the man-woman marriage statutes, and to respect the democratic process which will be decided at the ballot box in November, by not issuing marriage licenses to anyone but a man and woman,” said CCF President Randy Thomasson in a news release.

“The judges and the governor are violating the Constitution and the statutes, but county clerks know they have a duty follow the statutes, which haven’t been changed yet,” stated Thomasson, who said that the United States Justice Foundation is offering pro bono legal counsel to clerks who resist the state court’s ruling.

“Clerks don’t have to issue homosexual ‘marriage’ licenses, and they shouldn’t,” he added.

All original CNSNews.com material, copyright 1998-2008 Cybercast News Service. Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.

Questions

1.  How does the proposed amendment to the California constitution describe marriage? (see. para. 2)

2.  a) How many California voters were needed to sign a petition requesting that the marriage amendment be put on the November ballot?
b) How many signatures did the petition to put the marriage amendment on the ballot have?

3.  In how many other states have voters passed a marriage definition amendment to their state constitutions?

4.  a) Attorneys general from which states are asking the California Supreme Court to issue a stay on their ruling on same-sex marriage?
b)  Why are they doing so, according to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff?

5.  What is the group Campaign for Children and Families asking county clerks across the state to do?  Why are they doing so?

6.  Would you vote for or against an amendment to your state constitution that defines marriage as “between one man and one woman only?”  Explain your answer.

Challenge question:
Read a commentary opposing the California Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision here. Do you agree with Dennis Prager’s commentary? Explain your answer.

PLEASE NOTE:  “Answers by Email” has ended for the summer. 


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Background

  • In a 4-3 decision on May 14, 2008, the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.
  • The court’s ruling invalidated a state ballot initiative that passed with 61 percent of the vote in 2000 banning same-sex marriage in the state.
  • A state constitutional amendment (Proposition 22) banning same-sex marriage will be on the ballot this November.
  • Resources

    Visit the California Secretary of State’s website for further information on the marriage amendment at sos.ca.gov/elections/elections.htm.

    Visit the official website for the California Marriage Protection Act at protectmarriage.com.

    Visit the Campaign for Children and Families website (opposing same-sex marriage) at savecalifornia.com.

    Visit the website for the Equality California Issues Political Action Committee website (promoting same-sex marriage) at eqca.org.