Backers of a proposed anti-same sex marriage amendment to the Minnesota state constitution will file suit against Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Attorney General Lori Swanson over proposed language for the ballot question.
Minnesota for Marriage, the primary backer of the amendment, are challenging the wording that Ritchie and Swanson, both members of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, for changing the wording of the ballot question from what had been passed by the legislature.
The Republican-controlled legislature passed a proposed amendment that would write a same-sex marriage ban into the state’s constitution. Same-sex marriage is already illegal in Minnesota. The legislature’s bill had proposed a ballot title of “Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman.” The measure was symbolically vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton, a DFLer, but under the Minnesota Constitution, the governor cannot block a constitutional amendment.
Ritchie did, however, cite the governor’s veto in announcing his title for the ballot question, “Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples.” Minnesota state statutes give the secretary of state the authority to choose an “appropriate title” for an amendment, provided the Attorney General agrees with it.
“The actions of SOS Mark Ritchie and Attorney General Lori Swanson are unlawful and exceed their constitutional authority,” said State Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, who authored the amendment, in a statement from Minnesotans for Marriage. “It is a sad day in Minnesota when the Secretary of State and the Attorney General disregard the will of the legislature and use deceptive language.”
Minnesota United for All Families, the main group opposing the amendment, said whatever the wording ends up being, they will work to defeat it.
“We have been and will continue working across the state to spark conversations about the question Minnesotans will vote on, which is whether in 2012, our state will limit the freedom to marry for committed same-sex couples in Minnesota,” said spokesperson Kate Brickman.
Under Minnesota’s constitution, proposed amendments are placed on the ballot by majority vote of both houses of the legislature. The amendment is adopted if it receives the support of a majority of all voters, meaning that voters who vote on other questions but choose not to vote on the amendment are effectively voting against it.
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