For advocates of gender-segregated marriage, redefining marriage means redefining titles.
Minnesota for Marriage announced it had petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court to seek relief under Minnesota Statues § 204B.44 (errors and omissions) against Secretary of State (SOS) Mark Ritchie and Attorney General Lori Swanson for unlawfully changing the title of the Marriage Protection Amendment that will appear on the November ballot.
In a release last week, SOS Ritchie announced his intent to “substitute” the original title of the amendment from “Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman,” to ”Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples.” Ritchie cited Gov. Dayton’s “symbolic” veto of the legislation as having “invalidated the title designated by the legislature.” Attorney General, Lori Swanson approved the change.
“The actions of SOS Mark Ritchie and Attorney General Lori Swanson are unlawful and exceed their constitutional authority,” said Sen. Warren Limmer, the bill’s chief author. “The Governor’s veto was purely ceremonial and has no legal binding on the title of the amendment. SOS Ritchie is using the veto as a trumped up excuse to thwart the will of the legislature. It is a sad day in Minnesota when the Secretary of State and the Attorney General disregard the will of the legislature and use deceptive language.”
“This case is about the rights of the people and the legislature to function in a representative democracy without the interference of the executive branch of government,” said Rep. Steve Gottwalt. “It is also about preserving the constitutional integrity of the amendment process. The Minnesota Constitution grants the power to amend the constitution to the Legislature and the people. Here, the Secretary of State is attempting to interfere by disregarding the given ballot title and replacing it with a misleading and incorrect proposed title.”
Meanwhile Ritchie says naming amendments is his job.
But in an interview with MPR News last month, Ritchie said that the Legislature isn't supposed to name constitutional amendment questions.
"[Minnesota]] statute requires the secretary of state to provide titles for constitutional amendments with the approval of the attorney general," he said then. "The big things that we think about is are we being complete and accurate so that some voters will read that, and then that'll be some of the important information they'll receive and then there'll be a ballot question that will be other important information that they receive."
And Think Progess calls the lawsuit petty: “In regards to the marriage amendment, the fact that there is now a legal battle over its title demonstrates what a petty venture it is.”
If legal battles over words is petty, does that mean the push to redefine “marriage” is petty?