Defending Deceit: Religious Right Legal Group Fights For Duplicity On The Ballot

The folks at the Alliance Defense Fund seem to think voters vote best when they have no clue what they are voting on.

In California, voters will cast ballots in November on Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that, as the title states, "Eliminates the Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry."

Lawyers for the ADF – the Religious Right's premier legal operation – say that language is biased. They want to change it to state that the measure is a "Limit on Marriage. Constitutional Amendment."

If by biased they mean straight to the point in identifying the main purpose of the amendment, then I suppose they would be correct. So far, however, they've had trouble persuading the courts that their claim has any basis.

"The Attorney General's title is an accurate statement of the primary purpose and effect of the measure," a California Superior Court said in denying the ADF's lawsuit.

The ADF would rather can the straightforward language that gets to the heart of the initiative. Instead, they prefer to hide the Religious Right's agenda in cloudy language so voters can't make out the actual point of the measure and what it would mean if it passes.

Take Florida as another example. There attorneys for the ADF are fighting to defend ballot language that is blatantly deceptive.

Americans United and other education and civil liberties groups have filed a lawsuit urging the courts to remove two ballot proposals that do not make it clear to voters their actual effect. If these measures are voted into law, they will permit voucher subsidies for religious and other private schools in Florida and eliminate the state constitution's language barring tax aid to religion. The true result being houses of worship and religious schools would receive massive new streams of public funding.

Instead, the ADF's lawyers prefer the current language that does not even mention the word voucher and instead makes it appear one of the amendment's main purposes is requiring more public money to be spent on classroom activities. They filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the Florida Catholic Conference and four other religious organizations that stand to benefit from public funding windfall that would result if voters are successfully bamboozled.

AU is appealing a Florida circuit court decision that bought the ADF line and allowed these misleading amendments to stay on the ballot.

On the ADF Web site, the group claims its purpose is "defending the right to hear and speak the Truth." But organization's newest strategy -- dupe the voters -- suggests that commitment to the truth is not its purpose at all.

Deceptive political action may be the easiest way to pass Religious Right referenda in many parts of the country. But it's too bad that they have to sink so low.