Waymon Hudson

Officials Change California's Prop 8 Language on Ballot

Filed By Waymon Hudson | July 24, 2008 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: California, marriage equality, Prop 8

Election officials no_8.gifin California made what could be an important change to Proposition 8's language yesterday. Prop 8, which was put forward by fundies to reverse the state's Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage, is on the ballot in November.

Some activists think the language change, which spells out the removal of the right for same-sex couples to marry, could help add support to defeat the amendment. Read the change to the language after the jump...

The original ballot language read:

[Prop 8] Amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

The election official's change, however, gives the legislation a more straightforward read:

[Prop 8] 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.

This is a small but important change in language. According to some polls, changing the language to denote the removal of rights can add up to ten points to the "no" votes. Many people might be hesitant to strip away an existing right, which this language change makes clear. Also, the addition of fiscal impact could sway many voters in California who have seen the financial windfall marriage equality has given the state.

Let's hope this new language, as well as the hard work of those fighting Prop 8, can stop this discriminatory amendment from passing.

(h/t Boi from Troi)

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That language will hurt the effort to get the prop passed, I think. It does make it seem like something is being taken away instead of something being defended, which is closer to reality.

And the financial impact statement can't hurt either.

But prop 8 isn't on the ballot as a result of the supreme court decision. The process was underway to put it on the ballot long before the court decided the way it did in CA.

Ballot language is definitely important.

One of the keys to us in Houston soundly defeating Ward Connerly's anti-Affirmative action BS was changing the ballot language to a simple, easy to understand yes or no question.

Conservatives know that people are loath to vote on things to take away people's rights, so they always design these things to couch it in confusing language to hide the true intent of the resultant legislation.

It's a good thing. Anything that gets people to realize what exactly the vote plans to do, and gets people to *think* before flicking that lever (or click that button), is a good thing.

This, and Massachusetts looking to overturn the residency requirement for marriage... we're getting there, we really are!

On a related note, we should get a decision on Lemons v. Bradbury (Oregon ballot initiative) any day now. I would be shocked if that one did not go our way due to the lower court record.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 24, 2008 11:18 AM

Any time a voter can see that depriving rights will cost them money they are more likely to be in favor of the rights.

They're really putting the part in about fiscal stuff? That really needs to be in the Constitution? It's not even a complete sentence!

Gary47290 | July 24, 2008 9:11 PM

I'll be honest and blunt: prop 8 is put forward by a bunch of lying scumbag reactionary fascists.

I've said it. There's no reason we should pretend to be polite to these types.

This is not about protecting anything, no matter what their lying scumbag press releases say. This is anti-gay hysteria, tinged with raw theocracy.

If the intent was to protect marriage, they would make it harder to casually get married, and much harder to wed, especially if there are minor children. The biggest risk for marriage is people placing a low regard on the institution. The efforts of Gay and Lesbian Americans to gain this privelege shows how highly we regard the instituition of marriage.

Gary47290 | July 24, 2008 9:37 PM

Typo in my prior comment: I meant to say:

If the intent was to protect marriage, they would make it harder to casually get married, and much harder to ***divorce***, especially if there are minor children.

Gary47290 | July 24, 2008 9:44 PM

Typo in my prior comment: I meant to say:

If the intent was to protect marriage, they would make it harder to casually get married, and much harder to ***divorce***, especially if there are minor children.

The fiscal comment is not part of the amendment language, it is part of the obligatory explanatory comment. Many states require a statement about expected fiscal impact of ballot initiatives/amendments to be placed in each ballot or polling device.

That fiscal statement may very well cause true conservatives (i.e. fiscal conservatives rather than neocons) rethink their positions on gay marriage. It doesn't take much sense to figure out that, in a time of reduced tourism due to fuel costs, anything that would generate tourism would be good for California. Of course, the fact that it's the right thing to do, is a bonus.

Polar, I truly hope the fiscal statement will reach those that the social justice part won't. The more truth and explanation about the consequences of Prop 8, the better.

Beth Holden-Soto | July 25, 2008 4:48 PM

I wonder why they don't mention the tens of millions of dollars in court costs that the taxpayers of California will have to pay if this horrible amendment passes?

The majority of the fair-minded and good people in California know that Proposition 8 is wrong.

No on Proposition 8.

-Beth Holden-Soto
Happily Married
Gay Woman

Restore Democracy | July 25, 2008 5:33 PM

The Supreme Court of California's assault on democracy must be stopped. Proposition 8 must be decided legitimately. There has never been a right for same-sex couples to be married. This language is outright misleading. Let us restore democracy and allow voters to decide.

This language is outright misleading.

Ugh. ACTUALLY, it is much clearer and easy to understand for voters.

And the role of the court is to ensure the whims of the majority (such as slavery, women's rights, etc) don't trample on the rights of the minority.

As a married man in a same-sex couple, I hope you'll take the time to get to know the people this bigoted proposition would affect.

But thanks for stopping by our gay little home...

Restore Democracy | July 28, 2008 3:44 PM


Every law discriminates on some level. Laws against drug use discriminate against the minority who want to use drugs. Likewise, we do not allow polygymous marriages... even though those laws "trample on the rights of the minority."

If you want to change the laws, it should be done democratically. Thanks for welcoming me here. I worked at the gap and have no problem with gay people. But we live in a democracy where the people, through legislators, decide which laws to enact. You should agree this is the correct way to pass laws. Let's remember the Supreme Court's decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which held slavery was ok because slaves were property. Just because the court ruled in your favor this time, does not mean they will in the future.


Actually we live in a Representative Republic, not a pure democracy (otherwise EVERY issue would go before the people for a vote rather than be decided by the various branches of government. But that's a random civics lesson for another day.

The role of the courts in our society is to be a check and balance to other branches.

And as for these decisions being made by "the people, through legislators", that happened with marriage equality in California. Twice. Both times marriage equality passed the legislator but was stopped by the Governor (one man- and they complain about "activist judges"??).

But back to the subject of this post: the change to the language on the ballot is a good thing. It makes clear the ramifications of passing this amendment. Hopefully the people will decide the right thing.

Restore Democracy | July 29, 2008 11:17 AM


Is the Governor's right to veto absolute? The last time I checked, the Senate and House can override the Governor.

The California Constitution has never included a right of same-sex couples to marry. Language in Prop. 8 saying the amendment is eliminating a right is outright wrong. I hope the voters decide the right thing as well.

Edward Fox Edward Fox | August 1, 2008 5:16 PM

Plessy v. Ferguson was about segregation, not slavery.

The governor's veto of bills promoting marriage equality was because the legislature, in California, cannot repeal a public initiative (e.g. Prop. 22), unfortunately the legislature did not have the power, under the constitution, to pass the bills allowing marriage equality. It would have been wrong for the governor to sign an unconstitutional bill.

We live in a constitutional republic. We have a constitution that says what congress, the executive branch and the courts may and may not do. If the legislature passes an unconstitutional measure, one that it does not have the right to pass, no matter how popular, what are we to do? If we follow Restore's suggestion, we have no constitution for any practical purpose; just a useless piece of paper. So the courts rule that a bill is ultra vires, that is illegal and may not be enforced.

In Indiana, for example, we have a bill of rights that guarantees equality under the law. Unfortunately the courts here seem to have taken the position that they should defer to the legislature no matter what. Thus these activist judges have repealed part of the constitution by rendering it without force; the legislature may pass any bill favoring one class over another, and it will be the law in the state.

Finally while I urge everyone to bend every effort to defeat Prop. 8, marriage equality in California does not seem to be in very great danger. The polls about who is in favor of "gay marriage" are 51% in favor, but that is, and always has been the wrong question. (The interpretation that the 49% who answered no to that question are "opposed to 'gay marriage'" is also unwarranted.) A better question has been polled in California, and about 60% answered that they were against changing the constitution to ban "gay marriage".