Letters to the editor – Thursday (9-22-11)

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Timing of amendment vote circumvents a fair process
The North Carolina General Assembly recently voted to present the proposed “Defense of Marriage” amendment to the people by “submitting the proposal to the qualified voters of the State for their ratification or rejection,” as required by Article XIII of the state Constitution. However, the Republican leadership and our local representatives seemed to be very selective as to which “qualified voters” the amendment would be submitted to by selecting the May primary as the time for the vote.
It doesn’t take a political science professor to figure out the major draw in next year’s primary will be the Republican ballot. Democrats, while allowed to vote on the amendment, can be expected to pay less attention to a primary in which there are few if any Democratic contenders. Ergo, one can assume that the vast majority of primary voters will be Republicans, for whom this seems to be a major issue, along with selecting their candidate for president. The result seems likely to be ratification, at least by Republicans, if not by all of the “qualified voters” of the state.
This is not about the pros and cons of the proposed amendment. It is about a rather shabby way to circumvent a fair and complete vote by the people. Whether you approve or disapprove of this amendment, I think most decent people would like it put to the vote of all the people, not just those from the extreme base of one party or the other.
While this may be legal, it certainly subverts the clear intention of the writers of the Constitution, which was to get approval or rejection by all of the “qualified voters” of the state, not just an extreme minority.
— Jack. Burke
Many questions unanswered
According to the Salisbury Post report, Speaker Tillis falsely stated that the so-called marriage amendment doesn’t change current law, responding to Rev. Nathan King’s concerns about this anti-gay legislation at the town hall meeting Tuesday in Salisbury. Perhaps the speaker doesn’t know his response was inaccurate, since the Rules Committee held a rushed vote without public comment. UNC law professor Maxine Eichner has reviewed the legislation and said the amendment language is so vague and untested it may invalidate rights and obligations in both gay and straight unmarried partner relationships, including protections from domestic violence, child custody and visitation rights; trusts, wills and end-of-life directives; and domestic partner benefits.
The leaders of multiple municipalities and dozens of CEOs and business leaders from across the state warned of these consequences, yet their concerns went unheeded. This is especially troubling when we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Why anger businesses so desperately needed in our state?
Reverend King was concerned about the potential impact the amendment could have on the ability of churches to continue to conduct same-sex weddings and civil union commitment ceremonies. He is right to be concerned about this possible infringement on religious rights.
The speaker is quoted as saying it cost $30,000-$40,000 per day to hold the special session, funds that could’ve saved teacher jobs or helped children in need during these lean times. Instead, was it more important to attempt to codify discrimination against fellow North Carolinians into our constitution? Why was this anti-gay amendment so urgently needed now, when so many other challenges face our state, if he truly believed it doesn’t change current law?
I hope he addresses these questions. The people deserve answers.
— Rod Goins
An excellent fair
If you have not had the opportunity to take your family to the Rowan County Fair in recent years, I hope you will consider going this year. I believe it is the best fair we have ever had. There are so many learning opportunities and great entertainment for your family to enjoy. It is nice to know that for one week a year, we have such a wonderful, family friendly event in Rowan County.
I would like to thank Johnny Love and all of the Jaycees for their dedication to making the Rowan County Fair a success.
— Sandra Roakes