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Raleigh News & Observer: Just say no to NC’s Amendment One – it’s not about religious beliefs

The bottom line, as we’ve stated over and over, is this is not about one’s religious beliefs about marriage. It has been underscored many times by the opponents of Amendment One (including by people of faith), the ballot initiative that people are going to the polls on May 8 to vote for or against. The measure will eliminate all existing domestic parnerships, and preclude any possibility of legal recognition of same-sex couples.

The major paper in the region, the Raleigh News & Observer, has a strong condemnation of the Amendment this morning that gets to the heart of these many arguments we’ve seen, the  push and pull over church/state separation that shouldn’t be occurring in the first place.

[T]he upcoming vote on the amendment is not, or should not be, about religious beliefs that pertain to marriage. It is about strengthening the state’s current denial of marriage privileges to gays, and denying as well the possibility of non-religious civil unions. Such unions would not be “marriage,” but they would offer a framework for gay couples to have legal protections, encouraging long-lasting relationships. It’s almost inexplicable why the amendment backers went so far as to rule out any future accommodations of this type.

Just as important to many, the amendment would codify religious doctrine about marriage into the state constitution, in what surely would prompt a long-term legal challenge involving federal recognition of the importance of the separation of church and state.

There will be other challenges as well, as legal scholars have faced off, with some saying that unmarried domestic partners now granted insurance benefits, etc., by corporations (an increasing number) might find those benefits threatened based on this amendment. Those same scholars fear that custody rights for those unmarried couples who have children would be endangered.

It’s true that scholars are not unanimous. But those who support the amendment are hardly certain there would not be problems. Their argument is that there probably would not be. That’s not a confidence builder.

Whatever the legal positions, the so-called Amendment One is sure to plunge the state into courtrooms for years. That’s one reason N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper is opposed to the amendment, saying it is poorly written and unclear.

…Constitutional amendments should be about law, not about religion, and not about the social agendas of conservative or liberal politicians. They should be solidly constructed to protect rights and weather the test of time, like cornerstones. They should stand for all the people. This one, instead, is bitterly divisive. Even one of its prominent backers, the speaker of the state House, has said he doubts that, if passed, it will stand beyond another generation.Amendment One meets none of the criteria by which a constitution can properly be modified. It is motivated by politics, driven in some cases by a vindictive attitude toward groups of people not approved of by those who believe themselves to be in the “mainstream.”

Marriage is far too strong an institution to have phony “protections” like this one.

Yesterday, there was a big family-friendly event in capital city OutRaleigh (in its second year) to celebrate the lives of the many same-sex couples living here in NC whose lives will be affected by Amendment One, should it pass. People for and against the amendment were engaged in conversations; volunteers from around the country joined  local activists to help educate attendees about the ballot initiative and to do GOTV advocacy. (N&O):

Randall Reynolds, a 29-year-old graphic designer in Los Angeles, has spent time recently in North Carolina fighting against the amendment, building on a similar political battle in California four years ago against an amendment that passed but is now being challenged in court.

“It doesn’t make sense to me that anyone would try to legislate how others live their lives,” Reynolds said. “Gays and lesbians exist. They’re not going away, and they’re having children. Opposing gay rights harms those children.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding