By PATRICK CONDON
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Secretary of State Mark Ritchie abandoned the original title of the proposed same-sex marriage amendment that voters will see on the November ballot and replaced it with one of his own, his office announced Thursday.
The Democrat's office said the title, which will be directly above the ballot question, will read: "Limiting the Status of Marriage to Opposite Sex Couples." Republicans who backed the amendment effort wanted wording that focused on the traditional definition of marriage, "Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman."
The question on the ballot will remain the same.
Chuck Darrell, spokesman for the pro-amendment Minnesota for Marriage, suggested that Ritchie was "meddling" with the amendment. Ritchie's action "is a perfect example of why we need the marriage amendment," Darrell said. "You can't trust politicians to follow the law."
Ritchie's spokeswoman Patricia Turgeon said he wasn't available for comment.
"The secretary's only concern when choosing the title was that it be fair and accurate," Turgeon said.
Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for the anti-amendment group Minnesotans United for All Families, said the new title looked accurate to him, noting that "voters are going to vote on the question, and the question remains the same."
The question to voters will remain the same. It will read: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?"
Ritchie's title language was approved earlier this month by Attorney General Lori Swanson, a fellow Democrat.
Ritchie said he had the power to change the title because Gov. Mark Dayton, also a Democrat, vetoed the legislation that originally proposed the amendment. The measure still made it on the ballot because in Minnesota, proposed constitutional amendments only need to be approved by a majority in the Legislature — not the governor.
That legislation was approved in the Republican-controlled Legislature, and Dayton has acknowledged that his veto was symbolic.