When I started this Truth project, several months and 40 posts ago, my goal was to contribute to public education on the subject of Amendment One.
I have tried to be true to that goal. I have provided information about the Amendment, links to websites for and against the Amendment, links to legal papers on the topic and posts where I analyze a number of legal issues.
I have tried to help people understand that this is not the “Marriage” amendment. It is the “illegal domestic union” amendment.
I have tried to explain that a vote against this amendment will hurt no one and that a vote for the amendment can have legal consequences for a lot of someones.
While I am against Amendment One, I have tried to remain credible on the legal issues. In fact, I have not always agreed with the opponents of Amendment One on all the legal points.
For example, where arguments by opponents have been made that domestic violence laws will be invalid if the amendment passes, I have disagreed, based on a detailed analysis of the NC statute and the Ohio experience. Nonetheless, I ended up in the middle between the two sides, making clear that the uncertain wording of the amendment and the number of judges in this state who will interpret it could lead to some unprosecuted broken bones along the way until the appellate courts make the law clear.
I also do not agree with the opponents, for example, that the consequences are dire for visitation rights in hospitals if the amendment passes, because there are federal laws that give choices to patients about their visitors. And yet, that doesn’t mean that this amendment will not create problems in certain circumstances given the language chosen for this amendment.
I also do not agree with some who say that the amendment will not allow private contracts between unmarried couples, same-sex and opposite sex. In my opinion, the second sentence of the amendment (though it will be hidden from voters and not appear on the ballot), was designed to allow private parties in “illegal” domestic unions to make contracts among themselves.
And yet, the extent to which private parties in an “illegal” domestic union can enforce certain contracts is an uncertainty, a point conceded by the Constitutional Publications Commission, whose job it is to explain the amendment to voters. And furthermore, wills and trusts and powers of attorney are not private contracts, they are unilateral declarations, so they are not addressed by the second sentence of the amendment.
I plan to continue my legal analysis and continue talking with people about Amendment One until the vote on May 8th. However, I must say that it feels a little bit like I have been posting in the wilderness, in a place many supporters dare not visit.
When I pick up the newspaper, or read on-line reports, or watch the news, I am seeing too much preaching and not enough listening.
A minister is quoted as saying the Bible is clear on the point that marriage is between a man and a woman. Vote “yes”.
A man writes a letter to the editor and says his faith requires him to support marriage between a man and a woman. Vote “yes”.
A woman makes a point about Adam and Eve, saying God had no intention of having a marriage between Adam and Steve. Vote “yes”.
And yet, and yet…does the minister, or the man, or the woman, do any of them care to know that this amendment does not seek to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The original House bill would have done that, but the current amendment does not. It seeks to define marriage between one man and one woman as the only domestic legal union to be recognized. And correct me if I am wrong, but nowhere in the Bible or in our conservative upbringing did we ever hear that term, domestic legal union.
Do we ever say, in our small talk, when we meet a young couple, “where were you domestically legally unionized”?
Do we say, in the buffet line after the ceremony, “I truly thought this was a special domestic legal union”?
And do we ever say, “these young kids these days just want to live together, when they should really be in a domestic legal union.”
Of course not. We talk about marriage.
And that being the case, the biggest lie about Amendment One is the fact that it is argued and portrayed to be the “Marriage Amendment”.
If anything, Amendment One is the “domestic legal union” amendment, or better yet, the “prohibition against illegal domestic unions of all kind” amendment.
Unfortunately, much of the media feeds the lie, perhaps inadvertently, when it calls this the “Marriage Amendment”, and when it asks people how they feel about the “Marriage Amendment” and when it wants to engage in a forum about the “Marriage Amendment”. And why is that? It is because when people hear this they want to talk about one thing and one thing only — who should be able to get married.
What I am seeing is that many people who are “for” Amendment One don’t want to pay attention to the legal issues. They don’t want to listen. They want to put their fingers in their ears and pretend that everything in small town USA is just find the way it is, thank you very much.
Worse yet, people who are “for” the amendment either don’t know and don’t have the opportunity to know more about the amendment, because their leaders only allow one point of view to be heard. It is these leaders, whether political or religious, who will carry the most shame at the end of the day. Listening is one of the best skills a leader can employ. Too many of the leaders in this debate have forgotten how to listen.
Along the way in my journey to explore the truth of Amendment One, I have shared guest posts with real stories, because you cannot divorce the legal issues from the effects Amendment One will have on real people.
Most recently, I posted an article from a Baptist minister who shared real stories about real people. She shared her faith. She is gay. She spoke honestly and eloquently about how Amendment One will hurt people and how it goes well beyond marriage. She did so with the hope that others would listen. And while I am sure that many did listen, there are those who did not.
In fact, until this morning, I had posted every comment I ever received on this site. But as the administrator, I have the privilege of not posting a comment, if it is mean-spirited.
This morning, I had a comment from someone I did not post. She claimed to know the Bible, know it so well that she felt qualified to judge others. She judged the Baptist minister and she did so in harsh terms. She claimed to be a God-fearing Christian, and it was clear in her message she is voting “for” the amendment for that reason, while at the same time, it is clear that she condemns all homosexuals, including the minister. She said she was going to pray for the minister.
In my opinion, we don’t need the prayers of this person,, nor her judgmental invective. What we need is for her to listen with an open heart and open mind.
I have no problem with people whose faith tells them that marriage is between one man and one woman. I have not tried to change people’s minds about their faith. And if this amendment were solely about marriage, like the original house bill, then their faith-based position would relate directly to their vote on May 8th. But they have been deceived.
Were people to listen, would it be possible for them to separate the Bible from the Constitution? Would it be possible for them to separate the term “marriage” from the term “domestic legal union”? Would it be possible for them to recognize that causing harm to others, with amendment language that is broader than just marriage, is perhaps, just perhaps, a reason for second thoughts?
I think so. I think that when people of faith learn the facts and when they are guided by their hearts and not by politics (whether it be civil or religious politics), then yes, there is a chance that people will be able to separate fact from fiction.
But when I turn on the TV, or search the internet, or read the paper, and I see that people are not listening, it feels like my 40 previous posts have been posts in the wilderness.
My posts, and the message of many others who have tried to get to the truth of Amendment One, have been (to many people) like trees that fall in the forest when they are not there. They don’t really make a sound, right?
If the “for” side refuses to listen, if they continue to try to define this debate in terms of “marriage”, if they continue to assume that this debate is about the Bible and not about the Constitution, then woe are we, as a civilized society.
But I have faith.
I have faith, because there are others who are with me, others who are crying in the wilderness.
And one day, if not by May 8th, history teaches us that a voice crying in the wilderness eventually will be heard.