Mark Ritchie's amendment title: "Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples"

Is Ritchie's title for the marriage ballot question "appropriate"? It may be the Supreme Court's decision to make.
Is Ritchie's title for the marriage ballot question "appropriate"? It may be the Supreme Court's decision to make.

What verb sounds better to you -- limiting or recognizing?

Yesterday, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie irked same-sex marriage haters by giving this November's ballot question the following title: "Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples."

Same-sex marriage opponents wanted "Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman" instead. Minnesota law requires the secretary of state to pick an "appropriate title" for all ballot questions, and it may be up to the Supreme Court to decide whether the "limiting" or "recognizing" language is more apt.

Governor Dayton's symbolic spring veto of a bill calling for the amendment couldn't keep the question off November's ballot, but did grant Ritchie the authority to designate the question title. Still, Republicans promised to challenge the "limiting" language in court.

Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, told the Star Tribune that "we'll have to see if [Ritchie] can do that... I don't know why they are messing with it, but we have to try and stop them."

Said Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville: "It's unfortunate for the secretary of state to insert himself in a way to impact the outcome of the vote."

Fred Morrison, a constitutional law professor at the University of Minnesota, said, "my guess is [same-sex marriage opponents] are going to file a lawsuit, and the state Supreme Court will decide whether that's appropriate or not."

Ritchie's title won't impact the substance of the ballot question, which will still ask voters: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?" The title will appear above that question on the ballot. Nonetheless, it's well established that slight changes in the way questions are worded can have a big impact on the way people respond.

Could the difference between "limiting" and "recognizing" determine whether or not a same-sex marriage ban is enshrined in Minnesota's constitution? With polls suggesting the vote will be close, stranger things have happened.

Related coverage:
-- Support growing for gay marriage in Minnesota, new polling suggests

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