More opponents of Amendment One should stand up and say what its bigotry is really about

The video of NC Libertarian Party Chair J.J. Summerell, who speaks out against Amendment One, is laudable for underscoring some reasons North Carolinians should vote against Amendment One, but it is unbearably grating to me on a personal level because of the other message it sends -- that it is all about the "unintended consequences" it poses -- its effect on domestic violence laws, how it hurts children in custody matters, etc. There is zero commentary about the primary reason for this ballot initiative on May 8 - it is specifically designed to demonize and hurt taxpaying, voting LGBT North Carolinians.

"We oppose Amendment One simply because it is badly designed. Our state already has statutes against same-sex marriage. Amendment One goes even further and makes this change to our Constitution. This would have three, far-reaching, unintended consequences. First it would hurt children. It would change custody situations, it would change visitation rights, and many children would lose their health insurance. Secondly, it harms families. Amendment One directly affects unmarried, heterosexual couples and their children. Finally, it potentially harms women. Amendment One would take away domestic violence protections from unmarried women while keeping those protections in place for married women. We find that too prejudicial. As you can see, Amendment One has far-reaching, unintended consequences. Whether you're a Libertarian, Republican, Democrat or Independent, we strongly urge you to vote againt Amendment One on May 8."

J.J. Summerell -- and I don't fault him personally, this is about purposeful messaging decisions -- says not a peep about the fact that amending our state constitution specifically to deny civil rights to any group of North Carolinians is WRONG. That's something as a Libertarian he should have strong feelings about. It isn't a political stretch to say that at all.

No risk, no reward for speaking the truth?

Lest you think that saying something about the injustice to LGBTs is too touchy a matter in this state, take the courage and strength of conviction of North Carolina NAACP chair Rev. Dr. William Barber. He wasn't afraid to say what this amendment is really about - he did so at the 2011 Equality NC Foundation Conference, delivering his Open Letter to North Carolinians asking voters to reject Amendment One. Why isn't this message being delivered in viral videos:

Our mission for 102 years, has been to achieve equality of rights and eliminate prejudice among the people of the United States. The NAACP has always opposed any custom, tradition, practice, law or constitutional amendment that denies any right to any person.The NAACP does not and has not taken a position endorsing or opposing Gay Marriage. However, the NAACP has a long history of opposing any proposal that would alter the federal or state constitutions for the purpose of excluding any group or individuals from guarantees of equal protection under the law. Our opposition is based on our mission statement which calls for the “equality of rights of all persons.”

The issue of same sex marriage is a matter of conscience — a matter of religious or moral perspective. It should be worked out within one’s conscience, within one’s faith, and within one’s own heart and faith community. The North Carolina legislature is not the modern day Council of Nicaea — and we should not want it to be. Public policy, not personal morality, is what we ought to address in the legislature. How should the government address the public policy challenges of abject poverty, unemployment, poor education, economic justice, caring for those without health care, and equal protection under law? These are the questions that the legislature should be addressing. We should not allow my tax dollars, and my beloved state of North Carolina, to put their beliefs into our state’s most important document, to dictate to the consciences of other people here. This is a matter of conscience, not constitutions.

A vote on the same sex marriage amendment has nothing to do with your personal opinion on same sex marriage but everything to do with whether or not you belief discrimination should be codified and legalized constitutionally.

We need to stop for a minute and remember the history of amending the U. S. Constitution. Our nation had to fight a long and bloody civil war that our Constitution, on paper at least, began to expand its protections to all persons. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery; the 14th Amendment guaranteed all persons equal protection under the law, the 15th Amendment provided voting rights regardless of race or previous condition of servitude, the 19th guaranteed voting rights for [White] women, the 23rd provided voting rights in presidential elections for residents of the District of Columbia, the 24th eliminated discriminatory poll taxes in federal elections, and the 26th provided voting rights for younger Americans. None of the other amendments ever restricted the rights of any persons, except the two that established, then repealed, prohibition. Similarly, the North Carolina Constitution has always expanded and extended the equal rights of all persons that is in the First Section quoted above. When we look at the history of our U.S. and N.C. Constitutions, there has never been an amendment to narrow their protections, but always to expand their protections to all persons, and to remedy past injustices.

This reticence to include the obvious needs to stop. Yes, there are many unintended consequences including the harm to business growth in this state-- and they are bad ones because of this poorly-written ballot initiative. Those consequences are over-reaching, but what the design of the amendment was in its conception was disgusting. The elected supporters of the amendment were so blind in their homophobic rage to permanently deny any kind of legal recognition of same-sex couples' relationships that they pulled in a much larger pool of North Carolinians to hurt. Why leave the intended targets completely out of the messaging?

We are not even an aside - we're tossed under the bus as an expected, almost willing casualty. We need allies who are willing and expected to speak as Rev. Barber did by -"opposing any proposal that would alter the federal or state constitutions for the purpose of excluding any group or individuals from guarantees of equal protection under the law."

It's that simple. It's not about endorsing marriage equality or attacking the religious freedom to believe what you want in your house of worship. Let's get real, same-sex marriage is not happening in NC until SCOTUS makes it so -- this Amendment One battle is about stopping bigotry that hurts hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians -- including the LGBT ones.

At least Duke Political Science Professor Mike Munger, in his video against Amendment One, mentions its impact on gay and lesbian couples -- taking rights away from a population, denying the possibility of civil unions and domestic partnerships -- and that alone is a reason to reject it.

He also notes that the amendment “encumbers contract arrangements between all sorts of other people in ways we can’t even begin to imagine and that through the amendment, “government is making a choice about which kinds of arrangements families can raise children in...The effects of this law are going to be substantial; they are going to be economic and they are going to affect people all over the state."

Part of the education process of voters -- and I spoke to a black constituency group here in Durham  last night --  is being able to connect them to harms, so yes, telling them how they will be hurt is necessary, but the partner benefits and existing dps that already exist, have hurt no one and will be wiped away because of bigotry (and has nothing to do with religious marriage) is an essential talking point to include. Rights will be taken away.


A personal appeal – are you against NC’s Amendment One? We need your support for the home stretch!

Comments

Amen

There was a time when I thought Libertarians actually had the moral high ground on many fronts ... certainly those involving equality and fairness. This video struck me as cowardly.

The only silver lining is that at least they're talking publicly about it with the word "AGAINST" highlighted in the rhetoric. Grasping at straws, I suppose.

_____________________________________

Some days I am optimistic that North Carolina hasn't followed the Tillisberger down the rabbit hole. Today, however, you're catching me on a down cycle.

You're completely off base about attacking Amendment One

And I say that as a gay native North Carolinian.

If the goal is to defeat Amendment One, then focus on that narrow, singular, well-defined mission. Use all tools and arguments to create the broadest coalition against it.

If the goal is to engender long-term sympathy for LGBT equality from the larger population, then you're totally on target.

You get close to the disconnect when you talk about civil unions, but you still miss the point.

And your criticisms of the videos are just nonsense. They're clearly edited and meant to be kept short so people will watch them.

The criticism that should be leveled at the anti-amendment forces is their foolish organization name and failure to launch an outreach to independent and conservative voters sooner.

Ted Olsen is coming in about 6 months too late.

 

Completely off base?

Pitting long-term strategies against short-term tactics? Okay. I get it. If you're gay, you can't walk and chew gum at the same time.

PS Republicans and independents who are on the fence about A1 don't read BlueNC. And even if they did, they don't give a damn about what's written here.

As if defeating the Amendment wouldn't be both

... a strategic and a tactical victory.

Good grief. Eyes on the prize, people.

Even someone at Pam's place (first comment) from Arizona -- the only state to defeat an amendment like this -- gets it.

 

Seriously, did you not read what I wrote?

I'll say what I responded to the AZ commenter here:

The fact is that Rev. Barber referenced what is the core problem with Amendment One and didn’t say “gay” or “lesbian.”

When we look at the history of our U.S. and N.C. Constitutions, there has never been an amendment to narrow their protections, but always to expand their protections to all persons, and to remedy past injustices.

He pointed out that that oppression based on bigotry doesn’t belong in the constitution — coming from a moral perspective that counters the morality-based attacks that are out there. To draw this into the discussion is not a distraction in the least – in fact leaving it out suggests it isn’t a meaningful part of the debate.

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

The message is political

JJ was just trying to reach out to people who are on the fence or support the amendment. You don't get a larger coalition by preaching to the choir. You make arguments that this will hurt "you" and then when you have them in your tent you expand the message. It is called politics. Do you want to win the fight against this amendment or do you want to be a purist? I prefer a dual strategy. Plus, there are plenty of Libertarians getting the true message out. Just read this press release by LP Mecklenburg:

"Whereas the Libertarian Party of Mecklenburg County (LPMeck) is dedicated to limited government that protects the rights and privacy of its citizens, it opposes NC State Constitutional Amendment One which would seek to violate this principle and abridge the rights of its citizens to form a union with any person of their choosing and receive the same recognition and benefits as all other citizens."

from lpmeck.org

Pretty clear message of equality and liberty there. Don't hate on Libertarians, they are on your side in this fight and any fight for equality.

I'm not hating on the Libertarians at all

Is Barber preaching to the choir? I think not; clearly his constituency is more likely to have questions about his approach, but he chose to address the broad problem of this amendment in his message.

Is Mike Munger preaching to the choir by bringing up factual context as it relates to LGBTs and the extended unintentional harms? This is not about purity at all. Would you be saying this about limiting voting rights of a minority - to not mention those whose rights are directly being attacked, only the collateral damage it would cause? No. That's why Rev. Barber has taken an approach that is as honest as it is direct.

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Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

It is about strategy

I am with you in that I prefer Mike Mungers' and the Rev's approach to this issue. That is the main reason I am so opposed to A1. It is about the government discriminating against citizens. I am heterosexual and married to a wonderful woman, but I am outraged by amendment 1, as are every libertarian I have spoken with. My comment was pointing out that 1) There is a tactical approach to defeating this amendment that JJ might be using. The same one used by all politicians and activists to persuade. and 2) you are very quick to label the entire libertarian party and movement a "limp noodle" when it comes to liberty and equality based off of a 3 minute video(opposing the amendment) and in the face a much evidence of their strong devotion to liberty (see the press release from LPMeck, LPWake). I think you use too broad a brush when you criticize all Libertarians for one video from one person. You mentioned your liking Mike Munger and his response, well he was the Libertarian Party of NC Gubernatorial candidate in 2008.

I can understand your frustration about A1, but why beat up on your friends when we ought to be beating up on the other side.

Please try to understand,

much of the opposition to alternate methods of opposing Amendment 1 (various unintended consequences) stems from a perceived lack of concern for the very people initially targeted: LGBT folks.

You're right, the more people who can be convinced to vote against, the better. But, if the Amendment fails, yet overall sympathy/empathy for LGBT citizens also remains stagnant or (God help us) shrinks, the next time those jackasses attack gays, they're liable to do so more cleverly, with something that doesn't cause such "collateral" damage.

If we don't change minds about the core issue (LGBT rights), there won't be a coalition of partners defending them next time. The word "Pyrrhic" comes to mind...

I think the future is on our side

I can see your point and can absolutely agree with the sentiment. I think the future is on our side, however, as every poll and indication is that the 30 somethings and younger opinions on gay marriage and LGBT equality is one of acceptance rather than intolerance. I think that is one reason the GOP is trying to get this codified into the constitution, because time is not on their side and an amendment is harder to undue than a piece of legislation.

um, no

The same one used by all politicians and activists to persuade. and 2) you are very quick to label the entire libertarian party and movement a "limp noodle"

You are reading something that is nowhere in my post. I happened to use this video as an example (and said it's not a fault on J.J. Summerell's part) -- one of many examples of an approach that has nothing to do with Libertarians, but a strategy that has a big downside - rendering a population an afterthought on purpose - it's a method of political strategy that IMHO, is unnecessary. You should read my follow up post, NC Catholic Bishops back bigoted Amendment One – and prop up the direct harms.

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

we're almost on the same track, just a bit further now!

Again, I agree that liberty shouldn't have to be sugar coated and explained in terms of efficiency and unintended consequences. I am libertarian, remember, Libertarians have been railing and fighting our whole lives against "expediency over liberty" on issues such as free speech, single payer healthcare, gun rights and equality. JJ could absolutely have done a better job stating what is really at stake, but I think the important thing is that 2 out of the three major parties in this country fully support gay marriage. You can even take a look at the expected Libertarian party presidential nominee Gary Johnson who is fully in support of gay marriage. His opinion doesn't have to "evolve" to be one of liberty and equality.

My reference to calling libertarians "limp noodles" was this line from your post, "There was a time when I thought Libertarians actually had the moral high ground..." I see that you have since removed or edited that, so I now agree with your post whole-heartedly!!

and thanks for the healthy debate and exchange on the best avenues for getting this abomination of a ballot initiative voted down!!

My mistake Pam!

My apologies to you, Pam!! It was James' quote that I mistook for yours the "moral high ground" quote. My bad, I had attributed that to you by mistake.

James, I see you already apologized, so you are back on my Christmas card list...for now

My apologies

You make a good point.

Don't hate on Libertarians, they are on your side in this fight and any fight for equality.

It is good to see Libertarians standing strong on this, whatever their rationale or focus. I myself have said this is bad law, hoping that a few of the sane conservatives in North Carolina would see the dangers that come from sloppy language, sloppy legislation, and sloppy governance. It's no wonder R's hate state government so much ... they really suck at it.

I apologize for being in a pissy mood. Gets up and shakes it off.