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State commission writing official explanation of Amendment One

A little-used state commission is meeting Thursday to write an explanation on what Amendment One, the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment, is about and what it will mean for North Carolina families.

The Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission will sit down Thursday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. on the third floor of the N.C. General Assembly, 16 Jones Street in Raleigh, to develop the official explanation of the amendment. The meeting is open to the public, and will continue the next day at 9 a.m., if needed.

Backers of the amendment have portrayed the amendment as a way to block any court rulings that could pave the way for same-sex marriages in North Carolina.

Meanwhile, opponents say the amendment’s languages goes far beyond that and would not only keep the existing ban on gay marriages but also eradicate existing and future legal domestic partnerships between gay and straight couples.

The commission won’t determine the language that appears on the ballot (see below, lawmakers already decided the ballot language) but is supposed to produce a boiled-down, easy-to-understand version of what the amendment would do if passed will be in the state. The meeting is not a forum for advocates on either side, but limited to preparing the explanation of the proposed amendment.

The explanation will be distributed to county elections boards, and available to voters looking for explanatory information.

Serving on the Constitutional Amendment Committee are N.C. Sec. of State Elaine Marshall, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper and George Hall, the director of Legislative Services at the N.C. General Assembly. The commission meets every time there’s a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Now, here’s the exact language that state legislators opted to put on the ballot in the “Defense of Marriage” act they passed last year:

                              [  ] For                            [   ] Against

Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in the state.

Legal experts have argued that the language of the amendment will not only ban same-sex marriages (which was already prohibited in a previous state law in North Carolina), but also carve into the state constitution a ban on opposite-sex domestic partnerships.

UNC Law Professor Maxine Eichner spoke to N.C. Policy Watch in October about the broad effects of the same-sex marriage ban.

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The commission is also taking input from the public ahead of time, and draft text of the explanation can be sent to CAPC@sosnc.com or delivered to Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission, C/O NC Secretary of State, 2 South Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC  27601-2903.

The clock is ticking though, and public input needs to be in by Wednesday at noon.

10 Comments

  1. Jeff S

    February 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    If they feel the need to clarify the Amendment, then the language is wrong. Any accompanying statement is pointless. The courts will be the ones doing the after-the-fact interpretation.

  2. Rev Carl

    February 27, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Those of us taxpayers who are against this amendment will be forced to pay for the judicial fight to prove it is unconstitutional. Why not let those who feel it’s supportable pay for the cost to defend the indefensible.
    I’m voting AGAINST hate on 5-8!

  3. John M

    February 27, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Such a poorly written amendment. I’d be voting against it even if it was written as an efficient, narrow ban on same-sex marriage. But now even opponents of same-sex marriage have many extremely good reasons to vote against it. I hope they do. And I hope LGBT couples and their families get to make the most out of their chance to show North Carolina how much their families are like others and how much they deserve full and equal rights.

  4. HunterC

    February 28, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Agree with JeffS:

    Virtually the only thing passing Amendment One guarantees is future litigation about its meaning.

    The state would do well to avoid that.

    Just vote against the amendment.

  5. Lamar

    February 28, 2012 at 9:10 am

    LGBT families are not real families in the eyes of God. They are NOT love….they represent the lowest common denominator of humanity==sin, narcissism and self sexual gratification. Disgusting.

  6. Ricky Leung

    February 28, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Wow, talk about a statement that is an embodiment of hate…. Good luck getting into your version of Heaven with that.

  7. Doug Rhodes

    February 28, 2012 at 10:53 am

    As I read my Bible, I can’t remember anything that Jesus may have said about gay marriage. I remember that He said quite a bit about loving neighbors. I was also taught about how God is a God of Love and not hate. I have also learned that marriage is a sacrament equated with one’s chosen religion. But, at each of those occasions, an affidavit is signed by the couple and the presiding clergy. We also had secular Justices of the Peace. The signing is a secular act of commitment of a couple that is then recognized by a governmental agency — not a union, but a marriage contract. We demean our religious beliefs when we force them on others. The state constitution is not a document from God. It is a document prepared by men and women that is designed to protect rights, and not to take them away. This is the beginning, I’m afraid of a long and expensive time for the citizens of NC. My wife and I will be voting against the Amendment.

  8. Frank

    February 28, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Wow Lamar! Glad you know everything. Hope that gives you comfort judging others as Jesus commanded you to, oh wait, he said the opposite. He also said NOTHING about gay people but he did talk a lot about love, of which you seem to be lacking.

  9. Jack

    February 28, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Sin, narcissism and self-sexual gratification!! Got some insight on a personal level there Lamar?

    By the way, we’re in the era of the New Testament where “love thy neighbor” is in effect. According to the New Testament Jesus did away with the old testament god of law, judgment, and sacrifice with the support of a kinder gentler God the Father. That’s what I was taught in Sunday school. Unless of course church people need a wrathful and legalistic god, then it’s game on. (I was taught that in church too.) That’s when self-righteous people go to the closest and trot out the old testament god to validate their hate. The payoff is that self-righteous people who talk hate feel so right about themselves as they point fingers and yell till they’re horse. Kind of like in Little Rock when some black kids just wanted to get an education in a good school.

    For those who want to hide behind a god figure while spewing hate, be honest with yourselves and just say it’s what you believe rather than putting it off on some “god” that never did a thing to you.

  10. Frank Burns

    February 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I think the error we Christians make is to continue to underestimate the forgiving nature of God. It’s wrong for us to judge others when we all fall short and commit sin. Gay people are our friends, family and co workers. They should not be judged this way. I intend on voting against this amendment as well.