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CA Proposition 8 (2008): Did Gerry Brown change the ballot summary for political reasons?

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California State Attorney General Gerry Brown, long known for his liberal democrat viewpoint has abruptly changed the language of California’s Proposition 8 --

Old Version New Version

Amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: The measure would have no fiscal effect on state or local governments. This is because there would be no change to the manner in which marriages are currently recognized by the state


Changes California Constitution to eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Fiscal Impact: Over the next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact to state and local governments.

It has been a well-known practice of politicians and others to attempt to change the titling and/or descriptions of ballot initiative in order to sway the popular vote.

The issue of gay rights continues to be a hotly contested issue as California Proposition 22 (2000) passed with 61 percent of people against gay marriage (39 percent voting to allow it) but was invalidated by a recent California Supreme Court ruling.

Current polling shows that at least 51 percent of Californians want to recognize marriage as a traditional act between a single consenting man and a single consenting woman.

Considering the recent Supreme Court ruling which defies the wishes of the majority of California voters, Gerry Brown, rumored to be considering a run for another term as California Governor (term limits were imposed after his past terms in office), is now appearing to court favor with prominent gays in re-writing the language of the ballot initiative. Especially since San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is also known to be running for Governor position and is seen by the GLBT community to be gay-friendly.

The original ballot group has informally announced plans to sue Brown to get the wording changed back to the old version.

My position on California Proposition 8 – at this point in time: I take no position as this is not a major issue for me on  fiscal, religious, moral or procedural grounds.

However, I do have a great solution for the problem. Let the conservatives keep the word “marriage” and its traditional definition and let the gays use the word “merger.” Both equally backed with the force of law. 

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