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North Carolina: Prop 8 backers Alliance Defense Fund responsible for anti-gay Amendment 1’s broad language

Amendment One

By Scottie ThomastonGoal Thermometer

The language of North Carolina’s Amendment 1 – that the “only domestic legal union” that will be “valid or recognized” in North Carolina – is exceptionally broad and incredibly unclear. The ballot language is also unprecedented and undefined in North Carolina law. Since the proponents of the amendment went forward with the proposed amendment language, questions have been raised often about whether the amendment will eliminate protections against domestic violence for those in domestic partnerships. The statute relied upon in domestic violence cases uses a defined set of “recognize[d]” relationships. But the amendment clearly changes North Carolina law to only “recognize” one type of relationship: marriage between a man and a woman. And even research linked on the Vote For Marriage NC site – the website of the proponents – admits the amendment will ban civil unions and domestic partnerships. This will eliminate all the rights associated with currently existing domestic partnerships, including children’s health insurance.

It didn’t have to be this way:

This weekend, [NC House Majority Leader] Stam finally explained [why the amendment’s language is so broad and unclear] to the Fayetteville Observer who reported it this way.

Stam, the Raleigh lawmaker, said he wanted a more narrowly worded amendment but was “overruled” by “national experts” he identified as the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal advocacy group.

The Alliance Defense Fund is a leader in pushing anti-gay initiatives. They helped put Proposition 8 on the ballot. In fact, they fought to make Proposition 8’s language unclear:

Having lost its legal battle in May, the ADF has since redirected its efforts to guaranteeing Prop 8’s passage in November. Specifically, the group has attempted to finagle the initiative’s language, controlling how it will be read by voters at the ballot box. In early August, ADF lawyers filed an appeal with the court to reverse state Attorney General Jerry Brown’s decision that changed the words “limit on marriage” to “eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry” in Prop 8’s title. While the modification is much clearer as to the initiative’s true intent, ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco seemed to realize that such clearly worded language would turn off moderate voters. By arguing that “election ballot titles should be neutral and not intentionally prejudice voters,” while at the same time advocating for vaguer language, Infranco perhaps revealed his own suspicion that Prop 8 must be misrepresented in order to pass. However, the court denied the appeal, affirming Brown’s new wording.

And there is a reason for their desire to make the language as vague as possible:

The authors just don’t believe that same-sex marriage is wrong, they believe that it leads to “polygamy, endogamy(the marriage of blood relatives), bestiality and child marriage,” comments by the way that Stam himself made during the legislative debate last year.

They say that “pedophilia and homosexuality are intrinsically linked” and they see a conspiracy everywhere to promote the “radical homosexual agenda.”

Sears and the ADF believe people can be “cured” of being gay through religious conversion and they cite the case of John Paulk, who appeared on the cover of Newsweek as an “ex-gay” and became an activist for groups on the Christian right. Paulk resigned from the movement after controversy erupted after he was spotted at a gay bar in Washington.

The amendment that the Alliance wrote [in North Carolina] reflects their offensive philosophy that gay couples deserve no rights—not marriage, not civil unions, not employee benefits, not even privacy in their own homes.

It certainly helps cement views like this in state constitutions when you deliberately propose broad wording that even the proponents’ own experts say will have far-reaching consequences into all forms of legal relationships between couples. It provides lots of room for courts to dramatically alter the state of legal protections for gays and lesbians without pointing to animus. But this is not an accident by well-meaning proponents. The Alliance Defense Fund seems intent on confusing the electorate to win their fights.

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

1. Volunteer to Call for Equality – a GOTV phone banking effort against Amendment 1.

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

3. Sign up to help get out the vote in NC yourself! Courage Campaign is arranging out-of-state caravans and travel assistance is available.

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


  • 1. Martin Pal  |  May 7, 2012 at 11:50 am

    This is an interesting article, but it seems to go against the generally accepted rule that if voters are confused about a ballot proposition they will usually vote no on it.

  • 2. Sagesse  |  May 7, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    "Stam, the Raleigh lawmaker, said he wanted a more narrowly worded amendment but was “overruled” by “national experts” he identified as the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal advocacy group."

    Your elected representatives at work. Yup… that's how you decide the rights of the citizens of NC.

    It had to come out sometime… who exactly drafted this language and what they meant by it. So Stam just happens to be chatting up a reporter, a couple of days before the vote… and this is what he comes up with? Depraved incompetent loon!

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