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Initiative 43 (Colorado)/Ballot title board transcript

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The following is a transcript of that portion of the Ballot Title Board hearing on Colorado's proposed Initiative 43 on August 7, 2013.

Board member: And we only have one agenda item today, um, I don't actually have the agenda--

Board member: Number 43.

Board member: It's ballot title number 43. If the proponents could come forward. If you could go to the podium and introduce yourselves, and you do have to get pretty close to the microphone.

Jeremy: My name is Jeremy Mathis.

Lisa: My name is Lisa Starcher.

Board member: And you are the proponents?

Jeremy: Yes, we are the proponents of proposed initiative 43, yes.

Board member: Are there any questions from the board for the proponents?

Board member: I just have one question. In the language of your measure, you use the words "validity" and "recognition". And could you just please explain the significance and the distinction between those two terms?

Jeremy: The use of "valid and recognized" or "valid or recognized" is basically synonymous with the original language which stated that a marriage between an opposite-sex couple shall be valid and recognized in the state of Colorado, and we wanted to make that continuous across the board for opposite-sex and same-sex marriage.

Board member: Is there any meaning to those terms regarding a same-sex marriage here in Colo-- that's entered into in Colorado versus one that's entered into in another state and then those individuals come to Colorado?

Jeremy: That is correct. If someone is indeed married in a state that themselves recognize same-sex marriages, then that would, in turn, be recognized here in the state of Colorado as a legal and valid marriage.

Board member: Okay, thank you.

Board member: Anything else? Anything from either proponent other beyond what you've submitted?

Jeremy: No, no, we've read the staff draft and we agree with the way it was drafted here.

Board member: Alright, thank you.

Board member: Do we have anybody signed up?

Board member: I don't think so.

Board member: Nope.

Board member: Nope.

Board member: Alright.

Board member: Okay, then. The staff drafts of the first item is determination of jurisdiction. Any comments from the board?

Board member: No.

Board member: I'd make a motion that the initiative contains a single subject and we proceed to set a title.

Board member: Second.

Board member: All those in favor?

Board members: Aye.

Board member: Alright, we'll proceed to title setting. And as it originally reads for anyone at home, it says,

"An amendment to the Colorado Constitution concerning marriage, and in connection therewith, legalizing same-sex marriages in Colorado, continuing to recognize opposite-sex marriages in Colorado, and stating that both types of marriages shall be treated equally in all respects under the law with no legal distinction."

Board member: Anyone want to start?

Board member: I'll go ahead. I guess I don't know, and this isn't a subject area that I'm as familiar with, but I don't know if "legalizing"--they use the term "legalizing"--conveys the concept about being "valid and recognized", which is the terminology in the measure. Also, I think it's been the board's practice not to necessarily state what the measure doesn't do, which would be continuation of the opposite-sex marriages in Colorado.

And so I played around with the language a little bit and thought perhaps we might be able to state it a little differently, but still getting the same concept across, is something along the lines of granting the same legal validity and recognition to same-sex marriages as currently given to opposite-sex marriages so that both types of marriages are treated the same under Colorado law. Something along that way that's maybe a little simpler, but yet gets the emphasis of what's actually being changed across a little better, but that's... those were just my initial thoughts on the draft.

Board member: And I was wondering if we could get rid of the "in connection therewith", and maybe just do it, you know, "An amendment recognizing opposite-sex marriages as," you know...

Board member: Yeah, well, the same thing occurred to me about whether this would be an opportunity for that, for doing it that way, in which case I thought you might just plug the whole thing in and just say, "An amendment to the Colorado Constitution declaring that", and then literally put the entire measure in. It's not a very long measure.

[Overlapping talking]

Board member: So then, it would be, "...declaring a union of same-sex couple or a union..." and then just on from there, yeah?

Board member: Yeah, I mean, there's, I also thought about a couple ways to make it shorter, but that's probably the simplest and least mentally taxing approach to it, probably.

Board member: I would just say if we're going to do that, maybe strike "with no legal distinction". I don't really think it adds--

Board member: I think it's duplicative. I mean, you've already said that they're to be treated equally.

Boar memberd: Right.

Board member: I mean, they may have a reason that they put it in the... but I don't think legally it informs anyone more than the first part.

Board member: I agree.

Board member: Do you want to put that up there?

Board member: Do you think we should say, "in Colorado"?

Board member: Do we ever say "in this state" in a question, or just take that out? Take out "in this state"?

Board member: Yeah, I think you could just take it out--

Board member: Take it out--

Board member: --and then maybe later where you talk about "under the law", maybe you say "under Colorado law"--

Board member: Right.

Board member: --and then get rid of the "legal distinction".

Board member: Yeah, then get rid of the--

Board member: --the remainder of the sentence.

Board member: Right. So now it reads,

"An amendment to the Colorado Constitution declaring that a union of a same-sex couple or a union of an opposite-sex couple shall be valid and recognized as a marriage and shall be treated equally in all respects under Colorado law."

Board member: You could put, you could leave the "concerning marriage" if we want to, that sort of traditional language, or just do it this way.

Board member: Well I think the usual format is because of the constitutional requirement that the single subject be stated in the title. I guess it's just a question of whether we think the statement regarding the measure itself is sufficient for a statement of single subject.

Board member: I mean, I think you can certainly say that the declaration is the subject and this gets that across.

Board member: Mm-hmm.

Board member: I'm okay with-- I think it's-- legally complies with the legal requirements either way. It's just sort of a matter of which one we think is preferable.

Board member: I'm fine either way.

Board member: Yeah, I am, too. I'm always for less words, I guess, so...

Board member: And I'm trying to remember how we did it, honestly, when the section that's being amended, that would be amended here was done. But that was, if I remember right, there were sort of dueling measures on the ballot or proposals at least, and so I think it-- I don't think it's probably a very good model because I think we had to be a little bit careful given the different measures that were going up, whereas I suppose that could happen this time. So maybe we just-- if everybody's fine as is, then I say we leave it like that.

Board member: And then I think if there's any subsequent measures that are filed for title then we'll have to take that into consideration when we set the titles for those measures.

Board member: Okay.

Board member: Alright.

Board member: Anything further from the proponents, or any comment on what we've done?

Board member: We're good? Okay. Alright.

Board member: Then I would move the title language as it appears on the board.

Board member: Second.

Board member: Alright. All those in favor?

Board members: Aye.

Board member: Alright, motion passes. So the title and then the following-- the question will be amended to reflect those changes. And that concludes our agenda for today. And again, any person who is not satisfied with the decision of the board has seven days to file an exception and then a rehearing would be held after that time. So we are adjourned.

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