Marriage amendment fight headed to court
- Blog Post by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger
- July 9, 2012 - 1:04 AM
Backers of the marriage amendment will detail plans to sue over the ballot question's title on Monday, according to a release from Minnesota for Marriage.
In late June, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat, said he planned to change the title of the amendment question on the November ballot from "Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman" to "Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples."
Supporters of the amendment, which would constitutionally define marriage as only the union of heterosexual couples, say Ritchie "unlawfully" changed the title. At a state Capitol new conference Monday morning, they plan to talk about the suit they will file with the state Supreme Court about the issue.
Ritchie has said he was empowered to change it because Gov. Mark Dayton, also a Democrat, issued a veto of the amendment, which Ritchie believes negated the title of the question.The veto, the thinking goes, applied to the legislation around the amendment question, which included the title, but not the question itself.
In Minnesota, the Legislature has sole power over placing constitutional amendment question on the ballot.
The coming suit over the marriage amendment means that the Supreme Court will wind up deciding the fate of two constitutional amendment questions.
Earlier this year opponents of a second constitutional amendment -- to require voters to present photo ID at the polls -- sued claiming the language of the question itself did not adequately inform voters of the impact of the amendment. They said the court should strike the question from the ballot or alter the language.
The opponents sued Ritchie, a photo ID opponent. He declined to defend the amendment but the Supreme Court Court allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature, individual lawmakers and the chief organization promoting the amendment a voice in defending it.
The court will hear oral argument on the photo ID case on July 17.
Ritchie told the court he would need to know what language to put on the ballot in that case by late August in order to prepare the ballots for the November election.
Dayton also issued a sybolic veto of that amendment.
In his veto letter in April, the governor said: "I am vetoing the amendment and its title; and I urge Minnesotans to reject it."
There's yet to be a kerfuffle over selecting a new title for the photo ID question.
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