Chris Fitzsimon: Why Marriage Amendment should fail

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 4, 2012

By Chris Fitzsimon
N.C. Policy Watch
The folks determined to write discrimination into the state Constitution are pulling out all the stops to mislead voters about the amendment on the ballot in the May 8 primary.
The pro-discrimination forces don’t want voters to consider the damage the amendment could do to children, families, and workers, gay and straight, across North Carolina.
They want people to believe it’s all about banning same-sex marriage — which is already against the law. But it’s about far more than that.
This week a handful of politically connected district attorneys and former judges appeared at a news conference to basically call amendment opponents liars who are raising concerns about the impact of the amendment on domestic violence laws.
One of the speakers was former judge, tea partier and current Republican candidate for governor Paul Wright. Wright, it turns out, not only supports the marriage discrimination amendment, he favors a personhood amendment to the Constitution which would define a fertilized egg as a person and claims there’s a United Nations conspiracy about local land use planning.
House Majority Leader Paul Stam, a driving force for the amendment in the General Assembly, also has brushed off concerns about the amendment’s impact on domestic violence laws.
Stam simply refuses to consider the opinion of many respected legal scholars who believe otherwise, including Suzanne Reynolds at the Wake Forest University School of Law. Reynolds, as the Associated Press recently pointed out, has written a treatise on family law that is widely cited by lawyers and judges across the state.
Stam’s closed mindedness is nothing new. He and his fellow Republican legislative leaders refused to allow legal experts to testify when the amendment was making its way through the General Assembly last year.
If they are honest, supporters of the amendment have to admit there’s at least uncertainty about what the amendment will mean for domestic violence statutes and a host of other laws. The Constitution is no place for ambiguous, unclear language about basic human rights and legal protections.
Stam has yet to offer any explanation for not allowing the professors to have their say before the amendment was put on the ballot, but the fact that it is overly broad is not an accident.
For Stam and his fellow discriminators, the broader the better. There’s no dispute that the amendment bans civil unions forever. No General Assembly can undo that. Virtually every poll shows the majority of North Carolina voters support either same-sex marriage or civil unions for gay couples.
That means folks like the head of the Pope Civitas Institute are not telling the truth when they claim the majority of people support the amendment.
The majority of people don’t yet realize what the amendment would do. But Stam does, and he’s happy about it.
It’s not about marriage, despite all the claims otherwise. Not really. It is about a ferociously oppressive anti-gay, anti-human rights agenda.
Stam, remember, fought as hard as he could a few years ago to keep sexual orientation off the list of characteristics of students who may be vulnerable to bullying.
He has compared being gay to bestiality and polygamy. He and his Republican colleagues have stood shoulder to shoulder at rallies with speakers who have said being gay is an abomination and that gay people are going to hell.
Republican, pro-discrimination lawmakers have offensively suggested that being gay is a choice that people make.
The Republican Party platform opposes allowing gay parents the right to adopt children or even provide foster care to troubled kids.
That’s the real agenda here, to deny gay North Carolinians basic rights and protections far beyond marriage. It’s not a marriage amendment, not at its core.
It’s a hate amendment. Remember that when you close the curtain on your voting booth.