Why Republicans and Conservatives Should Vote Against the Marriage Amendment

In May 8th of 2012 (and for the weeks preceding May 8th during early voting–in North Carolina before every election the polls are open 6 days a week) North Carolinians will vote on the extremely pernicious marriage amendment, which reads: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

Will you be talking to any of your Republican or Conservative peers about the North Carolina Marriage Amendment?  Obviously, not all republicans/conservatives are the same, so here are some different lines of argumentation to “speak the language” of different types of conservatives.

For the rest of this post, I’ll be trying to use rhetoric that I think is likely to resonate with conservatives of different stripes, so if certain phrases sound funny coming out of my mouth, that’s why!

(1) For constitutional conservatives: When should our constitution be amended?

Conservatives (and liberals) should think carefully about when they add something to the constitution, and ask themselves under what circumstances should a constitutional amendment passed.

Same-sex marriage is already against North Carolina law.  A 1996 North Carolina law clearly states: “Marriages, whether created by common law, contracted, or performed outside of North Carolina, between individuals of the same gender are not valid in North Carolina.”

Amendments to the constitution should be restricted to changes to the fundamental structure of the government.

Do you think it would be wise or good for majority parties to, whenever they had control of 60% of both houses, start turning things that were already laws into constitutional amendments.

If you think there are any problems with the amendment (for example, if you don’t want batterers of women to walk free), you should vote against it because once it is in the constitution, it will be very difficult to get rid of.

(2) For economic conservatives: How do we fuel economic growth?

Somewhere between 4 and 12% of the United States population is gay or lesbian.

In a Harris Poll released in July 2011, “78% of all LGBT adults said that, other factors being equal, they would prefer jobs in states that recognize marriage equality. Nearly half went further by saying they would even consider declining job promotions if it required a transfer for themselves or their family to a hostile state or jurisdiction.”  Passing the marriage amendment would send the message to LGBT individuals that the state is openly hostile to them, encouraging them to open their businesses, bring their talent and create jobs in other states.

(3) For conservatives worried about the efficacy of the government sector: Shouldn’t the public sector model itself after the private sector?

Passing the marriage amendment would prohibit the public sector (municipalities and the UNC system, for example) from offering same-sex partner benefits to their employees.

89% of Fortune 500 Companies ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and more than half offer same-sex partner benefits.  If we want the public sector to work, we should model it after the private sector in every way–encouraging competition, striving for efficiency, and ending discrimination.

(4) For tough-on-crime conservatives: How should we address criminals charged with domestic violence crimes?

Ohio passed a marriage amendment in 2004 stating “Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.”  Trial courts all over Ohio, as well as two appellate courts, have held that because of Ohio’s Marriage Amendment, the state domestic violence law is unconstitutional as applied to some unmarried domestic violence victims. This means that batterers have been able to walk free in Ohio and would walk free in North Carolina if the amendment is passed.   Passing the marriage amendment would put the lives of battered women and men in severe danger; the state would not protect them under domestic violence laws unless they were legally married.

(5) For religious conservatives: what does the Bible say about queer relationships, and would you want the moral codes of other religions to shape our constitution?

If someone tells you that they’re voting for the marriage amendment because of their religious beliefs, how do you answer?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Would you want the religious beliefs of other faith groups written into our constitution?  Let’s say that over time, Christianity was overtaken by a different religious group as the majority faith belief in the United States, and that this group had particular beliefs about what lifestyles were holy.  Perhaps this example group said it was immoral, perverted and unholy to wear the color blue, to eat any dairy products, to drive cars or to shake anybody’s hand.  Would you think it was OK for this group to amend the constitution to forbid the rest of the country from wearing blue, eating dairy, driving cars or shaking hands just because their group was in the majority?
  • Should the rest of our country’s marriage laws be based on the bible?  In the bible, many of the most revered figures had multiple wives, including Solomon, Gideon, Jacob and Abraham.  The bible clearly endorses polygamy–should polygamy be made legal?  More shockingly, the bible says in Deuteronomy 22:13 “A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin.  If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed?
If you’re in Durham and would like to participate in the Duke Coalition Against Amendment 1, there will be a meeting in the Duke LGBT Center on West Campus at noon on Friday 11/18.  Email Jacob Tobia at jacob.tobia@duke.edu for any questions.

Published by Elena Botella

Elena Botella is a Duke Undergraduate in the Class of 2013, majoring in Economics and Math.

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