California Judge Rules Proposed Initiative is Limit on Marriages
(SACRAMENTO, December 8, 1999) --The League of Women Voters of California Wednesday praised a decision by a California judge affirming the accuracy of the name given by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer to a controversial ballot measure that would allow the state to discriminate against legal marriages of lesbians and gay men from other states.
Ruling from the bench in Stutzman v. Jones, Sacramento Superior Court Judge James T. Ford said that “Limit on Marriages” was a fair and accurate title for Proposition 22, slated for the March 2000 election. Judge Ford also granted the League’s motion to intervene in the case, allowing the group to join Lockyer in defending the title.
League President and individual plaintiff Gail Dryden said, “This highly divisive measure is deceptive in its simplicity, making it all the more critical that voters see a title that reflects what the proposition is intended to do. This initiative would create discrimination unprecedented in California.”
Dryden added, “Judge Ford’s ruling clears the way for the people of California to make informed decisions based on the most accurate, complete, and impartial information possible.”
Also known as the “Knight Initiative,” Prop. 22's main sponsor is state Senator Pete Knight, who has led several failed attempts in the legislature to pass similar measures.
In his decision today, Judge Ford rejected an attempt by Robert Stutzman, campaign manager for the initiative, to have the proposition renamed. Stutzman sued Lockyer and the California Secretary of State after they rejected his proposal to call Prop. 22 by the circulation title, “Definition of Marriage.”
The League, a nonpartisan group dedicated to providing voter education was represented by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the law firm of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe. The group believes the circulation title was deceptive, because the 14-word measure does not define marriage at all. In fact, Prop. 22 would not apply to marriages performed within the state, but rather, for the first time in state history, would limit which out-of-state marriages would be recognized in California.
California, like all other states, currently allows only non-gay couples to marry. However, the initiative is intended to apply if this changes in another state, perhaps as a result of court cases in Hawaii and Vermont. The Knight Initiative would prohibit the state from recognizing and extending protections to those legal marriages, a situation the League believes is discriminatory and constitutionally suspect.
Jennifer C. Pizer, managing attorney of Lambda’s Western Regional Office in Los Angeles, said, “The judge understood that this measure offers no ‘definition,’ but in fact would create a new limit on marriages. The League has done Californians a great service by educating voters about this discriminatory initiative.”
Contact: Trudy Schafer, 916-442-9210, 916-705-1090 (cell); Jennifer C. Pizer 323-937-2728 x 223, 213-590-5903 (cell)