April 11, 2012
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 Prop8TrialTracker.com 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.
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.