Sponsors of California Marriage Initiative File Suit

Supporters of a marriage amendment to ban same-sex marriage in California have filed a lawsuit against the attorney general’s title and summary of the measure, which they called prejudiced and biased.

Last week, Attorney General Bill Lockyer issued his statement on the proposed Voters’ Right to Protect Marriage Initiative. The proposed bill seeks to amend the state constitution with a definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The bill also stipulates that the government cannot grant the rights of marriage to unmarried couples, nor can they require others to do so.

Lockyer titled the amendment “Marriage: Elimination of Domestic Partnership Rights,” focusing on the ways that the proposed bill will restrict the rights currently granted to domestic partners..

Represented by Liberty Counsel, sponsors of the amendment have filed a challenge in the Sacramento Superior Court against Lockyer’s statement. They charge that Lockyer’s summary is inaccurate in its depiction of the amendment and its main purpose.

Despite what Lockyer wrote, the proposed amendment will not restrict or void ownership and transfer of property rights, inheritance rights, medical decision rights, or hospital visitation rights, said leaders of VoteYesMarriage.com, which is sponsoring the bill.

While Lockyer included these details, he missed the main points of the proposed amendment, said sponsors, namely, the protection of marriage. Although the summary should be neutral, sponsors of the amendment say that the attorney general’s statement revealed his true bias against the protection of marriage.

“The Attorney General has failed to carry out his duty to prepare a neutral, factual title and summary,” said Mathew Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel.

“He is impeding a fair vote on this important issue because he knows that Californians already have once voted to protect marriage as one man and one woman and will do so again if given the opportunity,” said Staver, referring to the passage of Proposition 22 in 2000.

Lockyer’s title and summary must appear at the top of petitions to collect signatures for the amendment. If enough signatures are collected, his statement will also be placed on the ballot for voters to read.

“The prejudicial title and summary must be amended to give the people their right to vote to protect marriage rights,” concluded Staver.

Last Wednesday, Lockyer approved two more measures to ban same-sex marriage in the state. Each proposed measure must collect around 600,000 signatures by December to be included on the 2006 ballot.