Here’s some jaw-dropping cowardice at work in the North Carolina Senate. At the 11th hour — of course in the dead media zone of Friday afternoon — Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (@SenatorBerger,, 919-733-5708) and staff are not only trying to hide the fact that they will bring a marriage amendment bill up for debate on Monday, but they are trying to do it in a stealth fashion that is completely disgusting. Berger and his fellow elected Bigots to Kill NC Business don’t want the public to know about or participate in the debate. Laura Leslie @ WRAL:

According to the public notices released today, the Senate Judiciary 1 committee will be meeting Monday on H61, “Speaker/Pro Tem Term Limits” – a proposal to limit the numbers of years House and Senate members can serve as leaders of their chambers.

But a new version of the bill leaked to WRAL Friday night shows the bill the committee will take up Monday has absolutely nothing to do with term limits. The new H61 is an amended version of the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

You can try to look it up at the legislature’s website, but you won’t find it there.

So what exactly is being amended in the bill? Oh guess what – they noticed that the all-encompassing permanent second class citizenship it would like to bestow upon its taxpaying LGBT citizens, is unpopular and bad for business. So now they want to soft-pedal a possibility of domestic partnerships, which is expressly forbidden in the current language of the bill. Under the Dome:

It’s not clear when the General Assembly leadership was going to let people know that, because the bill that’s listed on the agenda for that meeting now is the proposed constitutional amendment to limit the terms of the speaker of the House and president pro tem of the Senate. But the plan is to strip out the term limit language and turn that bill into the gay marriage amendment bill.

Why they’re doing it that way rather than rewriting either the House or Senate versions of the bill that already exist is unclear. Also unclear is what happens to the term limits bill, which both Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis said would be voted on next week.

The House bill would have defined marriage between a man and a woman as the only legal marriage in the state. The Senate version defined it as the only legal union, potentially invalidating domestic partnerships recognized for a variety of reasons. This new version adds language meant to protect domestic partner rights — just don’t call it marriage.

It’s clear why this new language is being crafted. Given the recent polling that citizens, newspapers and businesses oppose an amendment that precludes any kind of recognition for LGBTs — yet still at large don’t favor marriage equality — this move is meant to somehow placate LGBTs, allies and North Carolinians who know better.

BZZZZT. FAIL. Look at the new, meaningless language:

SECTION 1. Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution is amended by adding
7 the following new section:
8 “Sec. 6. Marriage.
9 Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be
10 valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering
11 into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating
12 the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

Please. Senator Berger, you are an embarrassment, earning your salary as a member of the General Assembly on the backs and wallets of taxpaying LGBTs. The fact that you and your fellow pols don’t like the label you have so justly earned – BIGOTS – is just too damn bad. Too late, you’ve earned it and no amount of pathetic compromise that permanently restricts civil rights (we’re not talking religious marriage) from any minority group is simply, utterly horrendous.

If this “compromise” passes, you and your colleagues will still be targeted for bouncing next time you’re up for election. Any elected official that cannot understand the travesty you are embarked on does not deserve to represent the people of North Carolina.

The President is coming to the state next week; there is every reason that Barack Obama should address this amendment’s impact on jobs, in terms of this state’s ability to draw jobs here, as well as the ability to retain the companies and organizations that draw top talent to the state now.

NOTE: My paternal grandparents, Asa and Elna Spaulding, both NC civil rights advocates/elected officials, have to be rolling in their graves at the spectacle of this bigoted cowardice.

* NC NAACP’s Open Letter to North Carolinians: reject marriage amendment that narrows – not expands – civil rights
* Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes writes open letter opposing marriage amendment to NC lawmakers
* Slur spewing pastor taking center stage in North Carolina
* The gloves are off: Equality NC slams N.C. Reps. Stam, Folwell for misleading state lawmakers and the public about impact of pro-hate amendment
* Make this viral: anti-gay pastor Johnny “two locks” Hunter on the biology of protecting marriage
* The right’s persistent obsession with sex (NC Policy Watch)
* Pastor Donald “Faggot!” Fozard and Herald-Sun columnist rail about Council’s marriage equality vote
* The institutionalized homophobia that some lawmakers in NC want to see expanded
* NC: The Truth About the Discriminatory, Job-Killing, Harmful, Family-Unfriendly, Divisive, Anti-LGBT Marriage Amendment

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding