Guest Post – Russell Robinson writes and speaks out against Amendment One

This post is courtesy of Russell Robinson, a well-respected NC attorney.  Unfortunately, there is not enough room here to list his many professional recognitions and accomplishments and his spirited community involvement. As evidenced by this post, he is, in addition to being a great lawyer, a person who knows a problem when he sees it and is not afraid to speak for others. We can read his words and then, at the end of this post, hear and see him speak out against Amendment One.  

On May 8, everybody should vote against the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in North Carolina – even including those who want same-sex marriage to continue being banned in North Carolina.

The proposed amendment is so poorly worded and so unnecessary that its adoption would actually increase the probability of a federal court invalidating its ban on same-sex marriage. This is exactly the opposite of the result intended by the proposers of the amendment. The amendment would also have other unintended consequences that would hurt everybody in our State.

The North Carolina law that presently prohibits same-sex marriage is so completely clear that it does not need any interpretation by a court.  It means exactly what it says:  Marriage can only be between one man and one woman. That traditional and time-honored concept of marriage has been the law of our State forever, instead of being recently adopted as a discrimination against gays and lesbians. There is no chance whatsoever that a North Carolina state court would invalidate or undermine that settled law in any way. Any challenge to the law will come only from a federal court, not a state court. But the proposed amendment does not provide any protection at all against federal court rulings. It is completely useless for that purpose.

In contrast to our present law’s very definition of same-sex marriage, the proposed constitutional amendment widely prohibits any “domestic union” that is not a marriage between a man and a woman, with an exception added later saying that it “does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party” (apparently even including same-sex parties). All of that language is so absurdly broad and unclear that it threatens to disrupt a wide range of domestic and family relationships, together with benefits dependent on those relationships.  It will undoubtedly provoke multiple lawsuits to determine what it means, and it can also deter businesses from moving to North Carolina because of the uncertainty of our law in this important area.

The proposal of this completely needless and ineffective amendment is creating a highly emotional and divisive political campaign, with an ugly attack on gays and lesbians in its attempt to have them constitutionally branded as second class citizens. These circumstances are almost identical to those in a federal court decision in February invalidating a California constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The court said that the amendment “serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity, of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”

That language in the recent California case describes the proposed amendment to our North Carolina constitution so well that it strongly invites the filing of a federal court action in North Carolina to invalidate our similar constitutional amendment as well. In fact, it might make North Carolina the best state in which to bring such an action.

Finally, this proposed amendment is motivated at least in part by the desire to write into our constitution the religious belief that the Bible prohibits same-sex marriage.  Those who devoutly hold that belief are entitled to great respect and full protection, as are the many Christians and those of other faiths who devoutly disagree. 

Writing religious beliefs into law to enforce them against everybody has created terrible problems down through history, and is still doing so in some parts of the world.  It is also condemned by the Bible in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (4:14-15), which says that such beliefs are matters of faith, not law, “because law brings wrath.”  This attempt to put a religious belief into our state constitution is thus contrary to a clear New Testament command and is already bringing wrath to us all.

For all of these reasons, I devoutly hope the proposed amendment will be defeated on May 8.

Post script:  Protect All NC Families released a statement concerning Russell and his wife Sally:

http://www.protectallncfamilies.org/news/grandson-nc-constitution%E2%80%99s-principal-drafter-opposes-amendment-one 

The statement begins as follows: Russell and Sally Robinson have been married almost 59 years. They live in Charlotte, are active in the Republican Party, and like many North Carolinians, they both strongly oppose Amendment One, a constitutional amendment that will appear on the May 8, primary ballot, which would threaten protections for all of the state’s unmarried couples and their children.

But Russell Robinson has an added incentive for ensuring the state’s founding document lives up to its original intent of protecting all North Carolinians: it was his grandfather, North Carolina Supreme Court Justice William B. Rodman, who authored the 1868 North Carolina Constitution.

Here is the link to the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrNCGn0fz50&feature=youtu.be

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