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by Rex Wockner
The California Supreme Court denied a petition July 16 to remove from the November ballot the voter initiative to amend the state constitution to re-ban same-sex marriage.
Lawyers for Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union had argued that the proposed amendment, if passed, would actually amount to a “revision” of the constitution.
While the California Constitution can be amended via a ballot initiative, it cannot be “revised.” A revision of the document requires a proposal by the Legislature or by a constitutional convention, followed by popular ratification.
The groups also argued that the initiative should be stricken from the ballot because people who signed petitions to put it there were not given accurate information on the proposed amendment’s impact.
Those petitions claimed the amendment would not change California law on marriage – which was true when the petitions were being circulated but is false now that same-sex marriage is legal.
The petitions also claimed the amendment would have no fiscal impact, but it will, because marrying gay couples from across the country brings money into California – both for counties and for businesses that cater to visitors.
While the court rejected removing the initiative from the ballot, it is possible the court would give renewed consideration to the groups’ arguments should voters actually approve the amendment.
Polling suggests Californians do not support writing marriage discrimination into the state constitution, though that’s no guarantee they won’t do so in the privacy of the voting booth.