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Pro-Prop 8 trial witness speaks out against North Carolina’s Amendment One

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Today, a unusual supporter adds his voice to the chorus against North Carolina’s proposed Amendment One: David Blankenhorn, the anti-marriage equality director of the Institute for American Values who testified as an expert witness in favor of Proposition 8 in California’s Prop 8 trial.  Writing in today’s News & Observer, a Raleigh-based paper that covers Durham, Cary and Chapel Hill, Blankenhorn and Elizabeth Marquardt, the Institute’s vice-president, describe Amendment One as “mighty cold” in an opinion piece titled “Amendment goes too far.”

Veteran readers of will likely remember David Blankenhorn as one of the few witnesses who testified in favor of Prop 8, and may recall that his testimony, in the end, ending up advocating for marriage equality more than making a case against it.  In a brilliant cross-examination by David Boies, Blankenhorn shared the following gem with the court:

“Gay marriage would be a victory for the worthy ideas of tolerance and inclusion. It would likely decrease the number of those in society who tend to be viewed warily as ‘other’ and increase the number who are accepted as part of ‘us.’ In that respect, gay marriage would be a victory for, and another key expansion of, the American idea.”

Despite this remarkable statement, Blankenhorn remains opposed to marriage equality: in his News & Observer editorial, he writes that he “oppose[s] legalizing same-sex marriage” and that his organization “aims to strengthen marriage and reduce divorce and unwed childbearing.”  Nevertheless, Blankenhorn speaks strongly against Amendment One in the editorial, writing:

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.

If you want to create a backlash against mother-father marriage – if you want to convince people that the real agenda of marriage advocates is not protecting marriage, but ignoring and ostracizing gay people – then this amendment might be to your liking. But we 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.

This is a new milestone in the Amendment One campaign: even the opponents of marriage equality view the amendment as extreme and discriminatory. We are at a crucial milestone in terms of the momentum we need to defeat Amendment One.  As Pam Spaulding noted yesterday, Rick Santorum’s exit from the Republican presidential contest bodes well for our side in the May 8 election that will decide Amendment One’s fate, since social conservatives will likely be less inclined to show up now Mitt Romney’s is essentially running uncontested.

David Blankenhorn’s editorial is worth sharing as widely as possible because it shows that Amendment One really isn’t about marriage equality at all.  In reality, the amendment is about discrimination, overly broad legislation, and the pitfalls of intentionally writing unfairness into a state’s constitution.  We have less than a month left before the first big LGBT ballot measure of 2012.  It’s time to push forward with everything we’ve got.Goal Thermometer

What you can do to help:

1. Contribute to the campaign on ActBlue so they have the resources they need to get our message out.

2. Sign up for a Courageous Conversation about Amendment One with someone you know in NC.

3. Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.


  • 1. AnonyGrl  |  April 11, 2012 at 8:49 am

    This coming on top of NOM's odd day is quite something!

    Does it seem to anybody else like we've just won this war? Like we are now in the cleanup phase? Because it is looking a lot like that to me. Let's press forward with the clean up, but YAY!

    Yes, Mr. Blankenhorn is still wrong about marriage equality, but that he is realizing what is wrong here and not pushing for it simply to protect his own position is quite a good thing!

  • 2. Alan_Eckert  |  April 11, 2012 at 9:01 am

    This should be a huge boost and will help call out the difference between the actual "protect marriage" crowd and those who are just anti-gay (which is most of them it seems).

    Don't forget the new word we came up with from the trial: Blankenhorny

  • 3. MightyAcorn  |  April 11, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Well, NOM's problem was a hack, they haven't changed their minds about anything. As for Blankenhorn, I dunno–I guess he thinks he means well, but this just seems like a pretend nicey-nice bigotry to me. Like a "love the sinner but hate the sin and deny the sinner civil rights" kinda thing.

  • 4. Kate  |  April 11, 2012 at 10:08 am

    AnonyGrl, I can't believe you're still getting away with posting there. I did manage to get links up to their internal documents that the Sheeple are denying, along with the email from Maggie and Louis posted at his site. I couldn't believe it! Then, 30 mins. later, they'd been taken down.

  • 5. AnonyGrl  |  April 11, 2012 at 10:13 am

    I think they are taking me back down again… I went back and saw my comment gone. LOL

  • 6. Michael  |  April 11, 2012 at 10:13 am

    If David Blankenhorn can come out against Amendment One, surely Mitt Romney can (espeically now that Rick Santorum has dropped out of the race, leaving Mitt virtually unopposed).

    Please help me get the word out to my online petition asking Mitt Romney to get on board with this as well… If we can convince him to oppose Amendment One, then that will take a lot of the steam out of those Republicans coming out to vote on May 8.

  • 7. Kate  |  April 11, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I love it that the Dogs Against Romney site on Facebook has more followers than the NOM site!

  • 8. Stefan in CA  |  April 11, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I was suprised to get a number of posts on NOM this am too, specifically regarding the Dump Starbucks International campaign, which got a lot of comments that hit NOM hard. Mine are all gone, and it wouldn't suprise me if many other's are too,

  • 9. _BK_  |  April 11, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I get through half the time. I post as Bryce K. there and it's quite interesting. One of the posters, ResistSSA, has taken an interest in patronizing me. It's quite amusing.

  • 10. Kate  |  April 11, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Oh Bryce, I am SO glad you read P8TT! I've tried many times to post on the NOMblog in support of you and to ridicule "Resist's" attacks against you but can't get through. He is SO insecure about either his own age or his lack of intelligence (or both), and he clearly resents your mental abilities. I also think he's attracted to you, and I'll bet I'm not the only one there who has noticed that………….

  • 11. Phillip K  |  April 11, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Wow….what an unusual day.

    I can't quite mentally come to terms with Blankenhorn's position on marriage equality. I struggled during the trials and it still doesn't make much sense to me.

    How can he view marriage equality as a key expansion of the American ideal along with victories for inclusion and tolerance and STILL be anti. I just don't get it.

    At least he realizes that this amendment is going way too far.

  • 12. Alan_Eckert  |  April 11, 2012 at 11:52 am

    At one point he mentions that marriage is one man, one woman "because of its unique role in uniting biological, social and legal parenthood." Apparently that only applies to children of opposite-sex couples and he thinks that there is no way it should be expanded to include same-sex couples only because marriage is opposite-sex. He answers the question with the same question (a common tactic of NOM and of ther "protect marriage" folks). David Boies called him out on this, as did Ted Olson.

  • 13. Phillip K  |  April 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks for the explanation even if the position doesn't make much sense to me. Sterile folks marry. Marriage doesn't guarantee biological link (adoptees) and marriage isn't required to establish legal parentage.

    Preaching to the choir though…I know.

  • 14. Kathleen  |  April 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Philip N. Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, comments on the Blankenhorn piece:

    Who’s to judge an expert on marriage? (Blankenhorn’s CV padding)

  • 15. Seth from Maryland  |  April 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Marylanders for Marriage Equality hires new campaign manager, referendum effort continues

  • 16. Sagesse  |  April 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm


  • 17. Str8Grandmother  |  April 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I am thinking Blankenhorn's position is Civil Unions although he doesn't come out and say that. It is probably the exclusion of ever providing Civil Unions that has Blankenhorn rejecting the Amendment.

  • 18. Alan_Eckert  |  April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    But cabinet-making is directly related to marriage!

  • 19. _BK_  |  April 11, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Thanks, Kate. :)

    Although I won't speculate as to ResistSSA's feelings for me (LOL), he has openly admitted on NOMblog to having same sex attractions. It's really quite sad, because if he's telling the truth, then he's fighting against himself. One important thing is that I've changed my approach to NOMblog. I no longer post to debate with or argue with the NOMbies; I post to rebut what they say, and that's it. Well, and also to get on their nerves… 😉

  • 20. John_B_in_DC  |  April 12, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Who knows what goes on over there. When I first started posting there–always politely, if pointedly, disagreeing with them–I got most of my comments posted, then one day they just stopped being accepted. For a long time, nothing; then they started posting all my comments again–still staying polite–and then a few days later, totally blocked once again. I don't seem to be completely banned now, because I still get the occasional comment (out of every 2-3 dozen that I submit) posted. I think they just get such a huge volume of posts disagreeing with them that they have to block most of them for some semblance of "balance" with their own supporters. Meanwhile their supporters like Michael Ejercito are allowed to post the most egregiously offensive comments:

  • 21. John_B_in_DC  |  April 12, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Ah well, just tried posting another comment, and it showed up with a "your comment is awaiting moderation" message (which I don't usually get)… and then it just disappeared.

  • 22. Adam Bink  |  April 12, 2012 at 8:35 am

    John: Please make sure to send these errors to prop8trial at couragecampaign dot org. We and our tech team aren't monitoring every comment 24/7 so we miss some. Thanks.

  • 23. JayJonson  |  April 12, 2012 at 8:39 am

    See the blog at on David Blankenhorn and Elizabeth Marquardt's editorial.

  • 24. Stefan in CA  |  April 12, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Of the usual 12-15 usual suspects, he may be the worst. And I agree that he may be fighting against himself based on both his extreme opinions (homosexuality should be illegal, as an example), and by admitting to having SSA's in the past. Just look at his user name. I often can't help myself from posting there due to the sheer ignorance, and the Starbucks International campaign is about as bad as it gets (some decent posts got through on that discussion). But in general, very few of my posts ever get through, even though I try to be civil. Sometimes yelling at the moderator helps, but often it doesn't make any difference.

  • 25. Kate  |  April 12, 2012 at 9:22 am

    My theory is that they don't want sane, civil posts from us. They want (or will create themselves to post) ugly, hateful name-calling from us to use of "examples" of how horrible we are.

  • 26. John_B_in_DC  |  April 12, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Adam, I was referring to attempts to post comments to NOM's blog, not here.

  • 27. Antigay Christians vs Kid&hellip  |  April 23, 2012 at 9:31 am

    […] But the antigay Christian leaders are silent on the very real harm the initiative would have by recognizing ONLY heterosexual marriage as legal in the state – something the Chad Griffin/Mark Armour-produced TV ads with real people for the bi-partisan Protect All North Carolina Families campaign underscore by contrast. Wonder what Jesus would say about the churches intentionally harming children in His name. I mean – even David Blankenhorn, Protect Marriage’s expert witness in the federal Prop 8 trial, opposes Amendmen…. […]

  • 28. NC Gay And Straight Paren&hellip  |  April 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    […] But the antigay Christian leaders are silent on the very real harm the initiative would have by recognizing ONLY heterosexual marriage as legal in the state – something the Chad Griffin/Mark Armour-produced TV ads with real people for the bi-partisan Protect All North Carolina Families campaign underscore by contrast. Wonder what Jesus would say about the churches intentionally harming children in His name. I mean – even David Blankenhorn, Protect Marriage’s expert witness in the federal Prop 8 trial, opposes Amendmen…. […]

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