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Supporters of anti-gay Amendment 1 in North Carolina misrepresent research cited in their newest ad

Marriage equality Right-wing

By Scottie ThomastonGoal Thermometer

The supporters of Amendment 1, Vote FOR Marriage NC, have a new ad that uses language in a very interesting, sleight-of-hand way. Opponents of the amendment have been pointing out that the phrase “only domestic legal union” in the text of the amendment would eliminate protections for people in domestic partnerships and civil unions, possibly reaching as far as affecting children’s health insurance and domestic violence law. That claim has been made repeatedly by opponents, by lawyers in the state and elsewhere, and by elected officials. This ad calls those claims misleading while also suggesting that “unmarried couples and single women” would indeed be protected from domestic violence. Of course, what they did is conflate civil unions and domestic partnerships with “unmarried or single” people.

They cite research purportedly backing up their claims. It’s important to note what’s going on here: the research they cite is a paper that was written in response to another paper, which had suggested that unmarried people would be affected by the amendment in situations involving domestic violence. In other words, the research they cite is based on a very narrow claim about the amendment that was made in a research paper, and the claim is different from the one being put forth by the campaign to defeat the amendment. While telling viewers “don’t be confused” by misleading ads, they continue to confuse viewers with their claims.

Another important fact is that the paper takes no position on the amendment, and the authors note they are speaking only for themselves, and not for their school or for any campaign. One of the very first things their paper says disproves their claims entirely:

“We begin with a point on which we agree with Professor Eichner and other Amendment
opponents: 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.

Right away, they agree completely with assertions that the amendment will have far-reaching consequences. Then they go on to make the assertion that is the real point of their research, and it’s a narrow one:

“In our view, then, Professor Eichner errs when she claims that “the phrase ‘domestic legal union’ potentially refers to any domestic relationship that receives any legal recognition, protection, or rights from the state.”24 She has not shown that North Carolina courts would apply the term “union” in the proposed Amendment to all unmarried persons who are cohabiting, dating, or just friends, nor can the term “union” reasonably be applied to parentchild, grandparent-grandchild, and sibling relationships.”

Their own research even backs up another claim made by the opposition to Amendment 1, namely that the phrase “domestic legal union” is nowhere to be found in North Carolina law but at a baseline it bans legal recognition of domestic partnerships and civil unions:

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.

The ad says the amendment “does one thing” which is to protect marriage as between a man and a woman. The research they cited, as I just showed you, does not agree with that assertion whatsoever. Amendment 1 will be on the ballot May 8, but early voting is going on now. The people opposing it have been up front about what they believe and it is backed up by doctors and lawyers. Don’t be fooled by misleading ads.

What you can do to help on Amendment One:Goal Thermometer

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.

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.


  • 1. Josh  |  April 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Wow, what a surprise! 😮

  • 2. catherine  |  April 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    did God also say it's okay to sleep with one's daughters? Or write erotic poetry? OR (fill in the blank here with another fantastic Bible story). Let's ask Newt Gingrich about how many marriages on can have between just one man and one woman.

  • 3. Reformed  |  April 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    So, there is the marriage protection ammendment from this video, and the marriage ammendment from the other video. I'm confused. Will both be on the ballot? Which one of these are they gay activists trying to pass off as the gay marriage ammendment, the anti-gay marriage ammend, and (shudder) Amendment 1 ?

  • 4. Scottie Thomaston  |  April 26, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    There's only one amendment: Amendment 1.

    They are trying to say it "only" makes marriage between a man and a woman. The language says that marriage between a man and a woman is the "only domestic legal union" which means that Amendment 1 would ban more than just gay marriage – it'd ban civil unions and domestic partnerships as well. They are trying to make it seem like there's no question, that it "won't" do that.

  • 5. Reformed  |  April 26, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Kate! Kate! Kate! Look! Look! Look! 🙂

  • 6. Mark  |  April 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Get a celebrity spokes person to speak out against amendment 1….

  • 7. bythesea  |  April 26, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Sorry, this is OT to the article, but is there any word (even rumors) about whether the en banc rehearing will be granted by Ninth Circuit? If I recall correctly, I believe the word was we'd likely know something by the first week or so of April, and it is about to be May. Just getting antsy, I guess.

  • 8. Scottie Thomaston  |  April 27, 2012 at 8:06 am

    I wouldn't know about rumors, someone else would have to answer that, but there's been no word so far. Last thing I heard was it was still under consideration, and that was weeks ago.

  • 9. RAJ  |  April 27, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I'm quite interested in the Ninth circuit's decision too. Maybe it will be put off until such time that it won't affect the current election cycle — can they do that?

    More OT:
    On April 16th in Matt Baume's "Marriage News Watch" round up, he mentioned that Washington's ref. 74 had been slow to gather signatures. At the time of his writing there were just over 5,000. Less then two days later, the PreserveMarriageWashington website listed 16,286 signatures. And this morning (a little over a week later) that website lists 33,744. I imagine May will be the month they really kick into gear — we shall see.

  • 10. Paul  |  April 27, 2012 at 7:44 am

    There should be a lawsuit against the organization and anyone that runs the ad. It's not acceptable to lie.

  • 11. Mackenzie  |  April 27, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Do we know if our side in NC has any plans to run a new ad in counter to this latest bs?

  • 12. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  May 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    […] won’t affect domestic partnerships or civil unions. This is contrary to the proponents’ own research which says “[t]he proposed Amendment will bar not only same-sex marriages, but also recognition or […]

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    So, there is the marriage protection ammendment from this video, and the marriage ammendment from the other video

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