Photo by: Dmitri Markine Wedding Day Session, Florida,USA.
Same-sex unions are “not an expansion but a dismantling of the institution.” Matthew J. Frank / FIRST THINGS
On May 8th, primary day for North Carolina voters, Marriage Amendment 1 was voted as law. This further solidifies marriage in NC between “one woman and one man”. As an institution in place even before the Constitution, it will be highly difficult for activist judges to alter NC’s definition of marriage.
Opposition has released huge amounts of false information on the Amendment just prior to the vote. Statements about ‘Further discrimination against homosexuals’, and ‘voting for the Amendment will eliminate rights for homosexuals’ were rampant prior to the election. As a result some thought the Amendment had to be defeated to fight discrimination.
Billy Graham, Catholics and other organizations who have supported Amendment 1, let NC know their vote was for no change in existing state law. NC already states marriage is to be between a man and a woman, and this Amendment makes it almost impossible for activist judges to alter NC’s existing law disallowing gay marriage.
Rep. Paul Stam (Majority Leader/NC House) repeats no benefits from federal government can occur based on a domestic legal union, other than marriage. The state government has never offered benefits for the unmarried, but nine (.14%) of the 625 local governments have.
The tone of the Amendment vote was set early when the local TV station (WLOS) reported the slicing and stealing of signs advocating voting or nor voting for the Amendment. Others have reported multiple cases of sign stealing from private property. WLOS said this was the largest amount of vandalism ever in a NC primary.
Over 500,000 people have voted early in this primary. This is 4% larger than the huge turnout in the 2008 presidential primary between Obama and Clinton. As a likely ‘swing’ state in the presidential election, a vote ‘against’ the Amendment would have probably have given Obama the energy he needed for obtaining NC’s electoral votes, thus pushing the national election towards Obama.
Marriage is a privilege to those who fit the necessary standards. Ability to produce offspring is usually one of those standards. A lifelong marriage commitment is also required.
“Married” is a status which allows heterosexual couples to receive some benefits from the federal and state governments. Marriage of a woman and a man has always been “rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition (Moore v. East Cleveland (1977)”. The Amendment, therefore, precludes expanding ‘due process rights’ to include same-sex marriage.
In federal law, marriage means “a legal union between only one man and one woman…” (1 U.S.C. §7, 1996). This definition is consistent with the long-standing definition of marriage in Black’s Law Dictionary (5th Ed., 1979).
The Defense of Marriage Act [DoMA/ US Congress/1996]–for the first time under federal law defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. While DoMA prevents same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits, it doesn’t order which state benefits are given to married couples, how individual states define marriage, or what laws are made concerning other aspects of married couples. It also doesn’t confine any benefits already paid to unmarried people.
Marriage Amendment 1 does not adversely affect NC’s economy. A 2011 report by The American Legislative Exchange Council (2011) ranked states by economic performance and outlook. Eighty percent of the top 10 states have marriage amendments. None has legalized same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships. Ninety percent with the poorest economic growth, have legalized same-sex marriages.
If same-sex marriage is called a ‘right’, then it will be extremely difficult to eliminate other types of ‘marriage’ clearly detrimental to a family (e.g., polygamy, pedophilia marriages, or bestiality). Nothing in the Constitution requires same-sex unions be called “marriage.”
Equal protection is easily secured without granting a “right to marry”. In these cases same-sex couples may legally be recognized as partners with particular rights, but are not considered married. Unfortunately, unmarried couples are attempting to acquire the same benefits as married heterosexual couples, within the last 20 years.
Benefits heterosexual married couples receive include income tax deductions, filing joint taxes, receiving a spouse’s inheritance upon death, family hospital visitation rights, and the next-of-kin right to make medical decisions during an emergency.
The Amendment passed by a narrower margin because of misleading data provided by many TV and radio adds. Opposition to Amendment 1 kept calling it ‘a ban on gay marriage’. The Amendment only said what the exact wording was: “marriage is between one man and one woman”. All public announcements completely discouraged discrimination towards any homosexual.
Kevin Roeten can be reached at [email protected].