The “For” panel said the most amazing things on Charlotte Talks.

Today, Mike Collins led a lively discussion on WFAE Charlotte Talks with three individuals who support the NC marriage amendment.

Paul Stam, state representative from NC District 37, was up first.  He was the avid “political” supporter of the amendment.  He was followed on the program by David Hains, Director of Communication for the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, and Rev. Dr. Mark Harris, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Charlotte.  They were the strong “biblical” supporters of the amendment.

Paul Stam said at least three times that NC has had the same definition of marriage – one man and one woman – for “340 years”.  He quipped that no bill has ever been put forth to change it, so there. What he fears though is the judiciary.  340 years may not enough staying power to withstand judicial scrutiny.  The amendment, he admitted, will make it more difficult for change to occur in the definition of marriage. At least he was honest on that point.

Where I lost Mr. Stam was with these comments.  He said that this debate is not really an Equal Protection issue.  He said that if we allow gays to marry, then they will want polygamy and group marriage next.  He said that the whole gay marriage movement is really about trying to delegitimize marriage.  When asked whether the amendment was a form of discrimination against homosexuals, he said no.  When asked why, he said it is “because they can still marry someone of the opposite sex”. I had to sit up in my chair when I heard that one.

Another theme started by Stam and carried on by Hains and Harris is that the main reason for protecting marriage between one man and one woman is the need to protect children.  The message was garbled at times, but they seemed to ground their argument on the premise that only man and woman can produce children.  Fair enough, but they didn’t explain how denying people who are gay the right to marry will make more babies.  I assume they have a plan to convert all gays to heterosexuals after the vote on May 8th.

Paul Stam said hospital visitation will not be affected for gays, and neither will powers of attorney, and that there is nothing to worry about with respect to the domestic violence laws.  Oh, and he said that if you happen to lose your same-sex couple benefits with a local municipality, you can blame it on a drafting error on the part of the municipality rather than the amendment.

In his final seconds on the show, Stam was asked what he would say to his gay constituents about the amendment.  His response was that the law treats everyone equally.  And just as I was thinking, “did he really say that”, Mike Collins said: “Really?”

In the biblical portion of the show, we heard that marriage comes from the bible.  We heard that God made man and woman for a reason.  We heard that marriage is about the love of two people and the children they produce and that gay couples cannot create life, so they cannot marry.  We also heard that heterosexual marriages that can’t produce or don’t want to produce children are simply exceptions that don’t matter, like heterosexual divorces. Apparently, they aren’t as harmful to the production or caring for children as gay marriage.

But the opinions didn’t stop at “marriage”.  They had opinions about civil unions.  Polling suggests that there is a large percentage of people in NC who support civil unions short of marriage, in order to give civil and government rights to gay couples.  Not these two.  For them, civil unions are just a “substitute for the institution of marriage”. So the gay community can’t even have that little nugget.

And then they opened the door for a question they couldn’t handle.  They explained that the marriage amendment was not about stopping same-sex marriage and civil unions (which it is to anyone who can read the amendment), saying instead that it is really about protecting traditional marriage. This led to the question that stumped them: How was gay marriage going to threaten marriages between men and women?

The answers given to the threat question sounded like the answers our parents used to give when there was no answer but their own authority.  You know, the ones where they say something like, “because I told you so”.

The first answer we heard to the threat question was: “because it doesn’t fit the definition of marriage”.  Then we heard: “because it doesn’t let them have children”.  Then we heard: “because it is not marriage”.  Oh, that certainly clears it up. The threat to my traditional marriage is because their marriage is not really a marriage, they can’t have children and they really shouldn’t be getting married.  It makes me want to run out and get a divorce just thinking about it.

On the issue of separation of church and state, there was some dodge ball being played.  There was never a good explanation given as to why the religious beliefs of the Catholic Church and First Baptist Church should become the force of law.  It was said, that “by faith, I believe what is in the Bible”.  It was not explained by what right that faithful belief should be imposed on all taxpaying citizens, irrespective of their faithful beliefs.  Except to say, that homosexual behavior doesn’t fit in the natural scheme, “according to God”.

So how did the biblical portion of the discussion end?  It ended with a strenuous denial by the biblical proponents that amendment one has anything to do with discrimination.  Like Mr. Stam before them, Mr. Hains and Dr. Harris said that they respect the dignity of all gay people and they are willing to welcome them into their church.  After what we heard, I am sure there will be a waiting list to get in.




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3 Responses to The “For” panel said the most amazing things on Charlotte Talks.

  1. wes207 says:

    I heard just a few minutes of this in the car yesterday, and had to jot down some notes at a stoplight because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Not sure whether it was Hains or Harris, but one of them, when asked what gave him the right to declare who can and cannot get married, said “I’m a citizen of this state. I pay taxes. So I have a say in who can get married.” He may as well have said “Those who are gay are LESS than citizens, and they DON’T get to decide whether and to whom they can get married.” It was just stunning.

    Thanks Landis for listening to the whole thing so the rest of us didn’t have to — it is very instructive but I’m not sure I could have stood it.

  2. susan says:

    All gay people want is the right to love their partner and be loved, just like everyone else. They aren’t any different from other people, they go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed, and then wake up and do the day all over again. Normal folks that most likely lead the same boring lives that the rest of us do. How many times a day do we need to say “Homosexuality is not a choice, or chosen lifestyle, it is determined at conception….. come on, North Carolina do the right thing.

  3. John B says:

    Early in the program Representative Stam was asked whether he saw a parallel between Amendment I and similar laws involving racial discrimination. He responded that there is no connection — that they are totally different things.

    Mr. Stam is surely not the only politician to so quickly dismiss the obvious. This wasn’t the only part of the conversation where reasoning bobbed and weaved while the preferred answers held steady.

    Up until 1967 we had laws regarding marriage that excluded interracial unions, or miscegenation (covering marriage, cohabitation, and sexual relations of any type). These definitions in law also claimed biblical justification. Some of the justification was social, referencing concern for children and the difficulty they would face among peers and disapproving adults.

    Fortunately, the Supreme Court determined these laws to be violation of basic human rights and, as such, unconstitutional. The definition of marriage was broadened to stop the exclusion of these unions of adult citizens. I don’t know if the welfare of children was a consideration in that ruling.

    There was a comment during the broadcast to the effect that unions of the same gender don’t fit the legal definition of marriage, which was established to protect the rights of children. There was also some biblical justification cited.

    I see concern for children among those who actively support the rights of children There are child advocates throughout this state that do just that, speaking for children with respect to education, public expenditures and, yes, families. A genuine concern for children would not use them as human shields to block practices with which we disagree, but would act to establish and improve laws that have direct impact on them.

    I see nothing in conventional marriage that has insured or even improved the odds for children when compared to the children of same-sex unions. The very impossibility of conventional insemination among same-sex couples does, however, make it certain that children of such couples are intentional additions to the family and not hormonal accidents.

    On another front, while I respect Mr. Hains’ skills as a former reporter it’s clear that his current position is more about spinning a perspective than reporting facts. The statistics on divorce in the Catholic Church are no better than those in the rest of our culture and have simply been “redefined” by making annulment more common. Obviously, there’s no problem with redefinition when it serves the diocese. What crap.

    Having systemically chosen to protect itself above children for so long the Catholic Church has a way to go before it can reclaim moral authority as spokespersons for children.

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