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HUGE – pro-Proposition 8 witness comes out against NC’s Amendment One in N&O op-ed

David Blankenhorn and Elizabeth Marquardt, both Southerners, are not marriage equality advocates, mind you, but they draw the stark distinction between “protecting marriage” and Amendment One’s purposeful, hateful denial of any legal recognition of the relationships of same-sex couples. They draw a line in the sand in a News & Observer op-ed.

As I have repeatedly reminded peeps following what is going on here in North Carolina, Amendment One is not about marriage equality. It’s not on the ballot, and it isn’t on any legislative agenda on the horizon in this state. It’s already against state law; the mini-DOMA has not been challenged. We don’t expect to see marriage equality here until the day the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the current federal law.

Amendment One is about denying any legal recognition that municipalities and counties would like to extend to same-sex couples, and will actually nullify the domestic partnership measures in place. It will create legal chaos over its muddy language when it comes to any private arrangements.

This is where Blankenhorn and Marquardt  (respectively president and vice president for family studies at the Institute for American Values), draw the line in the sand, and it’s a firm one, even if you don’t agree with their commitment to separate-but-unequal stand on marriage equality. It places any support for Amendment One — and its proponents under the moral microscope.

The proposed amendment states that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” That’s a big mouthful, and it goes well beyond the issue of same-sex marriage.

For one thing, it means that North Carolina could not, now or ever, take any step or devise any policy to extend legal recognition and protection to same-sex couples. No domestic partnership laws. No civil unions. Nothing.

That’s mighty cold. If you disdain gay and lesbian persons, and don’t care whether they and their families remain permanently outside of the protection of our laws, such a policy might be your cup of tea. But it’s not our view, and we doubt that it’s the view of most North Carolinians.

Marquardt, who grew up in Winston-Salem and attended Wake Forest University, notes that if the point is to be a “traditional marriage” advocate, groups like Vote for Marriage NC are asking for a backlash because the naked bigotry is exposed, no matter how they try to paper it over.

[W]e believe that the cause of marriage is hurt, not helped, by gratuitously linking it to the cause of never under any circumstances helping gay and lesbian couples.

In the California “Prop 8” case, David felt that he could testify on behalf of traditional man-woman marriage in good conscience, in part because California some time ago passed domestic partnership legislation to extend legal recognition to same-sex couples. He argued in favor of domestic partnerships, more commonly called civil unions, while also insisting that marriage, because of its unique role in uniting biological, social and legal parenthood – a great gift to our children – is its own institution, deserving of its own name, and should remain, as it has always been, the union of a man and a woman.

Do we suggest that North Carolina must rush out and pass civil unions? That’s not our argument. Our argument is that you should not amend your constitution in order to ban even the future consideration of this, or any other, idea for aiding gay and lesbian couples and their families.

How does Tami Fitzgerald of Vote for Marriage NC defend her position? Not very well. By aligning herself with the likes of the embarrassing homophobic, sex-act obsessed pastor Patrick Wooden of Upper Room church in Raleigh, she underscores that the base motivation for A1 is about hating gays and lesbians raising families in this state, not marriage.

And the National Organization for Marriage has been flailing around this issue depending on what state they are persecuting gays in. In New Hampshire, it took a fall back position in support of civil unions in order to preserve any shred of credibility in its opposition to marriage equality there, yet continues to support efforts like Amendment One that ban civil unions. The inconsistency of the “marriage protection” industrial complex is obliterating its credibility (whatever it had) by persisting in its extremist positions that have no basis for support except for naked hatred, and this is what David Blankenhorn and Elizabeth Marquardt do not want to be associated with.

This call for intellectual honesty by Blankenhorn and Marquardt is a devastating blow to Vote for Marriage NC. Even if you do not agree with their position on marriage equality — it’s all going to come down to SCOTUS anyway — it sounds the alarm that the over-reach of Amendment One is to be condemned.

When you have prominent North Carolinians on opposite ends of the political spectrum agreeing that Amendment One is wrong for the state on multiple levels — the most recent outspoken call to vote against it is represented by former Charlotte Mayors Harvey Gantt and Richard Vinroot — the pro-Amendment crowd is looking petty, bigoted and out of touch with most North Carolinians.


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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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