May 3, 2012
A day after the North Carolina NAACP condemned recent racist remarks made by the wife of a sponsor of Amendment 1, the proposed amendment to make opposite-sex marriage the “only domestic legal union” allowed in the state, the National Organization for Marriage announces it’s dropping more money into the proponents’ coffers:
— Pam Spaulding (@pamspaulding) May 3, 2012
Widely known mostly for its own efforts to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks” through divisive media campaigns and other underhanded tactics, the National Organization for Marriage’s involvement in this campaign is not a surprise. But it is interesting that the campaign would go in this direction after all its recent bad press – from racism expressed by proponents to threats of violence and videos of firing shots and urinating on No on 1 signs by supporters – and allow itself to be further defined by strategies from which they should be distancing themselves. If the campaign is going to embrace wholeheartedly this type of strategy then they can’t claim to have the moral high ground any more.
The North Carolina NAACP was having none of their race-baiting:
Earlier today, a video was released concerning comments allegedly made by a supporter of the Discriminatory Amendment that claim preservation of the Caucasian race to be one of the motivations behind the pro-amendment campaign. Click here more.
The alleged comments by the supporter of Amendment One would be less concerning if they did not fit as a piece of the cynical puzzle of race-based political agendas and money found in the forces and rationales behind the Discriminatory Amendment. The reality is that the extreme right wing forces behind this amendment are the same people waging a public policy campaign against African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, the poor and other minorities. Therefore, the alleged comments and the well-documented rationale represented in them are not surprising. They only serve to help connect the dots between a regressive, race-based strategy to pass Amendment One and the larger attack on the rights of minorities for the purpose of maintaining power in the hands of the few.
We already know that two groups on the steering committee behind this amendment, the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, are affiliated with national organizations recognized as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
This Trojan Horse trick is perhaps most clearly evident in the recently unsealed secret documents from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) revealing the real strategy behind this amendment.
And now this — the allegation of a blatant reference to a twisted race-based rationale for Amendment One being written in the first place. North Carolinians must reject this ultra-conservative, regressive and mean spirited agenda. We must be better than this as a state and as a people who make glowing claims to our belief in justice and fairness for all. We must vote AGAINST discrimination, division and hate in our Constitution. We must vote AGAINST Amendment One.
The proponents have also released a new ad that is quite interesting in many respects. It could very well be their final ad of this campaign, and the entire thing is a defensive attempt to push back against the opponents’ messaging on the amendment. There’s no attempt to send their own message or redefine the issue – just claims that the opponents are lying about the amendment’s legal effects on domestic violence protections.
A link to a paper on their own site admits that:
The proposed Amendment will bar not only same-sex marriages, but also recognition or validation of civil unions and domestic partnerships that constitute legal substitutes for the marriage relationship. The question is whether the Amendment will apply to other domestic relationships beyond marriage or marriage-like legal statuses.
While the precise phrase “domestic legal union” is neither defined in the proposed Amendment nor heretofore has been used in North Carolina law, it plainly refers to marriage or marriage imitations or substitutes. The key term is “union”—not domestic “relationships,” as Professor Eichner argues. The Amendment does not forbid the legal recognition or validity of all domestic relationships, but only of domestic “unions.” The flaw in Professor Eichner’s analysis is that she does not give the term “union” its proper effect in limiting the Amendment’s reach. (In her 27-page report, she only devotes a single sentence to the meaning of the term.9). North Carolina courts frequently have used the term “union” to describe the marital relationship.10 Black’s Law Dictionary defines marriage as the “[t]he legal union of a couple as spouses.”11 Thus, in the context of the proposed Amendment, a “domestic legal union” is a marriage or legal status resembling marriage. The Amendment bars North Carolina from recognizing or validating same-sex marriages or other similar legal statuses, such as civil unions and domestic partnerships, which are meant to embody marriage-like relationships.
Their previous ad claimed that the amendment “only” defines marriage as between a man and a woman. And the issue is this: if domestic partnerships are gone, will legal protections given to people in domestic partnerships also go away? The statute in question reads:
For purposes of this section, the term “personal relationship” means a relationship wherein the parties involved:
(1) Are current or former spouses;
(2) Are persons of opposite sex who live together or have lived together;
(3) Are related as parents and children, including others acting in loco parentis to a minor child, or as grandparents and grandchildren;
(4) Have a child in common;
(5) Are current or former household members;
(6) Are persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship.
And since the “only domestic legal union” that would be “valid or recognized” in the state is opposite sex marriage:
At issue: will defense attorneys be able to argue the state cannot “recognize” many of these relationships for the purposes of prosecuting crimes? No one knows. Every law professor in North Carolina says it’s possible. Roy Cooper, NC’s Attorney General called the law “unclear, unwise and unnecessary” and said it “will also result in a significant amount of litigation on many issues which will be decided by courts for years to come.”
It is very far from clear that defense attorneys would be unable to prevent prosecution based on claims that no domestic legal unions other than same sex marriage are valid or recognized in North Carolina. The proponents’ research linked on their own site admits that the amendment would have far-reaching consequences and would make opposite sex marriage the only domestic legal union. They admit it would ban civil unions and domestic partnerships. Their ads continue to say that only marriage between a man and a woman is “instituted” by “God” and therefore that should be the only form of recognition given. It is very hard to run ads making that claim and then run other ads claiming that other relationships would be recognized by law as well.
It is interesting to see the campaign struggling to fight back against opponents’ message, though. Protect ALL NC Families has really taken control of the discussion and everyone from the proponents to NOM is stuck defending themselves against a growing mountain of evidence against their claims and a growing suspicion of their true motives. We are watching an increasing amount of violent, racist and erratic behavior from supporters of the amendment and we are seeing groups like the NAACP and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence denouncing them. With less than a week to go, we’ll see what happens next.
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.
4. Download social media tools and yard signs to show your opposition to Amendment 1.
5. Volunteer to Call for Equality – a GOTV phone banking effort against Amendment 1.
6. Sign up to help get out the vote in NC yourself! Courage Campaign is arranging out-of-state caravans and travel assistance is available.