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Vote for Marriage NC is paying for its mistake of focusing on Amendment One as statement on ‘God’s Law’

When you don’t have any other card to play when it comes to discriminating against LGBTs, out comes the bible. Without fail; it’s been clear from Day One that the people at Vote for Marriage NC could not find a way to make the case to add a measure to the state constitution to “protect marriage” without conflating church and state and preying upon fears and ignorance of voters. Its latest volley – recruiting Franklin Graham, the anti-gay preacher son of Billy Graham for its radio ad, released Friday (N&O):

The Rev. Franklin Graham has recorded a message supporting a proposed amendment to North Carolina’s constitution that would limit traditional marriage as the only recognized domestic legal union in the state.

The pro-amendment Vote FOR Marriage NC released late Friday the audio message from Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham and head of the Samaritan’s Purse organization in Boone.

Franklin Graham asks listeners to “take a stand on God’s definition of marriage” between a man and a woman and vote for the amendment on the May 8 primary ballot. Anne Graham Lotz – Franklin Graham’s sister – also has said she supports the amendment.

The ballot initiative is a complete legal over-reach — the original intent by its proponents was to ensure gay and lesbian couples would never have access to ANY legal recognition such as civil unions or domestic partnerships in addition to marriage — and Vote for Marriage NC has run into a lot of trouble here because of it:

  • The collateral harms that the amendment could cause to all unmarried couples — rollback of existing domestic partnerships, effect on domestic violence laws and health benefits for children, have the organization completely on the defense.
  • An epic level of public condemnation of Amendment One from conservative judges, elected officials and organizations, has rendered V4MNC silent, since it cannot trot any public officials out on camera to support its position. Its most embarrassing moment to date has to be that an original sponsor of the Amendment, Rep. Jim Crawford, announced in a public forum that he plans to vote against it because “it goes too far.”
  • There are direct challenges to the notion that this is a religious or moral battle against “godless, evil secularism.” There’s no other way to read V4MNC’s ads, which prominently feature the National Organization for Marriage’s racial wedge strategy — showing black families and clergy to purportedly represent all Christians should be for the Amendment.

The last point is particularly damning because of the hundreds of clergy of all colors and denominations — including Baptists, usually seen as conservative — have publicly come forward to condemn Amendment One. Just this week, a group of 15 interfaith African American Clergy in Greensboro took out a full page ad in the Carolina Peacemaker, a well-known black newspaper in Guilford County. In the Greensboro-High Point-Winston-Salem region alone, 100 black clergy have come out against the amendment.

The landmark position of the NC NAACP, led by Rev. Dr. William Barber, is a big wet blanket on Vote for Marriage NC’s message.

No matter our color. No matter our faith tradition. Those who stand for love and justice are not about to fall for their trick. No matter how you feel personally about same-sex marriage, no one, especially those of us whose forebearers were denied constitutional protections and counted as 3/5ths of a vote for their slave-masters and mere chattel property for other purposes in the old Constitutions-none of us should ever want to deny any other person constitutional protections. – Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP

Religion in North Carolina, like much of the South, plays an important part in its culture, and it’s essential that the religious arguments made to justify making LGBT North Carolinians permanent second-class citizens not be dismissed, but addressed head on. And it has been, to the detriment of V4MNC’s own messaging, because it only underscores its own message of religious bigotry. If we are to accept its argument that this is about “God’s Law” and marriage, then all of these other clergy must hold an untenable religious position – that they are WRONG about the same holy book people in V4MNC’s ads are quoting.

Using religious advocacy as the main justification for voting for Amendment One exposes the fact that these people want everyone to live under their religious worldview to the exclusion of all others. That is a theocracy, and the lengthy list of people of faith who are against Amendment One are well aware of the use of biblical justification for all sorts of discriminatory human behavior in the past, thus their opposition and willingness to be very public about it. The amendment is a danger to religious freedom. These other members of the faith community are stating that:

1) this amendment’s purpose has nothing to do with religious marriage;

2) it’s simply wrong because it focuses on adding discrimination into the constitution and causes collateral harms,

3) questions about religious marriage are a personal matter to be discussed and debated within one’s own house of worship.

V4MNC’s head honcho,Tami Fitzgerald, an attorney, knows the difference between church and state matters.  The bottom line is that they all know this is a civil matterit has nothing to do with the bible, personal faith, or, quite honestly about anyone’s existing marriage in a house of worship.

Yet the professional anti-LGBTs persist in their flawed messaging. For instance V4MNC’s fingerprints are all over this ridiculous ad running in western NC, sponsored by carpet store (my post here) that features people quoting scripture about how it is God’s plan for a man and a woman to “join in one flesh,” and so that’s why one should vote for A1. There is nothing about civil law addressed because they cannot make a case.

The proof of that lies in the Proposition 8 case in California. A key witness in that case, David Blankenhorn and fellow one-man, one-woman marriage activist Elizabeth Marquardt, wrote a colossal smackdown of Amendment One and its proponents in an op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer, that directly charged the Vote for Marriage NC crowd with bigotry.

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.

That’s a damaging rebuke of the motives and strategy of Vote for Marriage NC. If the intent is to “protect marriage,” then passing such a sledgehammer measure that prevents any legal options for lesbian and gay couples to be recognized boils down to making this amendment about their distaste or disapproval of any state entity recognizing them.

Again — V4MNC’s public faces have to be forced to say publicly that other NC churches — are wrong about the very same holy texts it cites in V4MNC ads. It has made this bed, and now it must be forced to lie in it.

The fact is that the pro-Amendment forces aren’t convincing anyone. Just a smattering of the recent coverage…


The Durham Committee On the Affairs of Black People, a powerful political action committee here that came out against Amendment One, is holding a GOTV Rally, “Your Vote Is Your Voice, Make It Heard” today (Sunday) at 5:30 PM at Union Baptist Church, 904 North Roxboro Street, Durham, NC. Pastor Rev. Dr. Kenneth R. Hammond.

The guest speaker is Rev. Michele Cotton-Laws, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chapter, NAACP President


I’m registered to attend a high-profile event on Monday that should be interesting. Look at the panel.

Leadership Triangle panel on Amendment One, Durham ATC, Monday, April 30, 5PM
5:00-7:00 pm
Bay 7, American Tobacco Campus

Join us Monday, April 30, from 5:00-7:00 pm for a panel on Amendment One. Come to bay 7, American Tobacco Campus, to hear from our panelists and stay for a beer or glass of wine and some hors d’ourvres.

Tom Campbell – Former Assistant Treasurer of North Carolina. Currently produces and moderates the television talk show NC SPIN.

Panelists Include:

  • Anthony J. Biller – Attorney at Law
  • Maxine Eichner – Reef C. Ivey II Professor of Law, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Representative Deborah K. Ross – Minority Whip, North Carolina General Assembly
  • Dr. Patrick L. Wooden, Sr. – Pastor, Upper Room Church of God in Christ

Wooden’s the minister who said all gay men end up in diapers and use iPhones as sex toys — and that I should find Jesus and a man to breed with.


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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding