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.
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.