In the last ten days, three legal “experts” from Campbell Law School parachuted in to try to save the legal day for the “For” side of this debate.
Up until recently, the “For” side’s strategy in this debate was simple. Ride the wave of religious fever. Ride the wave of family value conservatism. And ride the wave of misinformation about the Amendment.
But the plan wasn’t working so well. The numbers in favor of Amendment One have been dropping in the polls in recent weeks.
Why? Perhaps it is because North Carolinians are smarter than the “For” side thinks.
In the last month, it has become clear in letters to the editor, op-ed articles and comments to me about this blog (both oral and published) that people have started thinking critically about Amendment One. That has been a bad sign for those on the “For” side who want to control the conversation with sound-bite messages that incite anti-gay sentiments.
So the strategy has shifted, or at least has been augmented, in the last ten days by those leading the campaign in favor of Amendment One. They decided to join the discussion about the legal issues of Amendment One.
The title for this article was born of a visit this week-end to Washington, D.C. I was there on business and happened to drive past the Watergate hotel.
Many of us remember, or most of us have learned about, the Watergate scandal of the Nixon presidency. Watergate was a place where secrets were made and covered up. The “gate” in Watergate has been a symbol for cover-ups ever since.
On April 25th, EqualityNC, a group opposing Amendment One published an on-line article about the Campbell Law professors who wrote the recent paper. The article is reproduced below in its entirety.
The article begins with the fact that the Chairwoman of Vote For Marriage NC (the group promoting passage of Amendment One), is heralding the three Campbell law professors as an independent source speaking on the legal issues of Amendment One. She said in a press release: “Now we have an independent source as well as legal scholars refuting the false claims by our opponents.”
So the questions are: Are the three law professors from Campbell an independent source, as Tami Fitzgerald declares? Are they family law scholars? Are they the only scholars who have opinions on the legal effects of Amendment One? These are questions for you to decide. The article below provides information that might be helpful.
Even though the authors say in their papers that they are speaking for themselves, they are being touted by the “For” side as three experts from Campbell Law School, as if to suggest that their “report” on the legal issues is consistent with the thinking of others at Campbell Law School. This is not true. A family law professor at Campbell has challenged the paper, along with 11 other family law experts at all the other North Carolina law schools in this state. So is this Campbellgate?
Lynn Buzzard, whose name appears as the lead author of the Campbell report, may not be the independent source his report claims. It is one thing to analyze legal issues after stating your leanings on Amendment One, as I have done in this blog and as I have done publicly. It is quite another thing to suggest, as the authors of the Campbell paper have done, that they don’t endorse or oppose the marriage amendment, when the article below suggests otherwise. So is this Buzzardgate?
Finally, you may want to think of this as Fitgeraldgate, or you could call it Tamigate. Choose the one that rolls off your tongue best.
I think this last “gate” is perhaps the most insidious, because I had the “pleasure” of debating Tami Fitzgerald on WTVI in Charlotte last week. It was aired last night, and should be available for on-line viewing this week.
What happened off-camera before the debate is consistent with Ms. Fitzgerald’s stump speech about the independence of the legal paper by Buzzard and his co-authors.
Before the debate started, the WTVI staff was making sure that the names of the debaters were accurate. Tami Fitzgerald was first to be asked and said there was a mistake on the screen. The mistake was not in her name but in the name of the amendment. The tag line said: “Tami Fitzgerald, For Amendment One”. She said there was an error, that it should say: “For Marriage Amendment”.
Tami Fitzgerald wants the public to think about Amendment One as only the “Marriage Amendment”. The trouble is: it is propaganda. And the WTVI staff realized it. After a WTVI caucus on the issue, they rejected her request. They changed all the tag lines to say “For” or “Against”… “Constitutional Amendment”.
One could argue that Ms. Fitzgerald’s recent endorsement of the Campbell professors’ paper as an independent source is part of an ongoing cover-up in this debate. Is she really ignorant of the previous public opinions of the authors? Does she really have any evidence that the 12 law professors at all 7 NC law schools who actually have family law expertise are not independent sources? I think she knows exactly what she is saying and the message she is trying to send.
Having said all this, I want to make several things clear. One, I am not a family law expert. Two, I do think Amendment One is a bad idea for a number of reasons, both for legal and social justice reasons. And yet, I have disclosed my position.
In a search for the legal truth of Amendment One, and at the request of two of the three authors of the Campbell paper, I also have gone as far to post their articles and comments to this blog. And yet, at no time, either in their emails to me or their posts on this site, did either of them disclose to me the information that is in the article below.
Everyone is entitled to their legal and personal opinions about Amendment One.
However, whether you agree or disagree with the analysis of the three Campbell professors, you should read the information below and think about whether the paper is really the result of an independent source, as argued by the “For” side, or whether there is a “gate” somewhere that needs to be opened.
Meet The “Legal Experts” Supporting North Carolina’s Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment
April 25, 2012 9:16 am ET by Carlos Maza
Vote FOR Marriage NC, the leading group working to pass North Carolina’s anti-gay marriage amendment, has been touting a white paper published by three law professors who claim to have debunked many of the concerns raised about the amendment’s broad language. In a recent press release, the group hailed the professors for being an “independent source”:
“For months, the media and opponents of the Marriage Protection Amendment have been spreading false information regarding the affect [sic] of the Amendment on current law,” said Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Vote FOR Marriage NC. “Now we have an independent source as well as legal scholars refuting the false claims by our opponents.”
The professors themselves – all from the Campbell University School of Law in North Carolina – reiterated [that point throughout their paper, depicting themselves as neutral, unbiased commentators] their neutrality and role as unbiased commentators throughout the paper:
The reason for this paper is a narrow one. We do not endorse or oppose the proposed Amendment. There are thoughtful arguments on both sides, and we encourage a robust public debate about the Amendment. Our aim instead is to help clarify for North Carolina voters the Amendment’s legal meaning and likely effects.
In reality, however, all three professors have anti-gay agendas, and none of them appear to have expertise relating to family law.
Lynn R. Buzzard
According to his Campbell University bio, Lynn R. Buzzard specializes in international law dealing with “religious liberty, refugee and asylum issues” in countries like China and Russia. He also has a background in theological studies and a history of working the religious organizations.
Years before the fight over gay marriage gained national attention, Buzzard was a stalwart opponent of the mainstreaming and normalization of homosexuality.
In 1995, Buzzard lamented the “slide” of American culture into non-Christian morality, writing:
[T]he culture moves relentlessly and recklessly toward a Romans 1 crisis, an inexorable descent from a rejection of God to the basest animalism.
Consider the American family. Has the plea for responsible sex, the celebration of “promise keepers,” or the targeting of dead-beat dads provided us with a vision of sexuality and family life which provides a nurturing environment for children?
In a 2003 interview with North Carolina’s News & Observer, Buzzard voiced his support for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, saying:
The biggest concern is the extent to which it poses an assault, whether intended or not, on the basic institution of marriage. Many observers, of whom I’m one, feel the institution of marriage has been at the core of Western culture, that it’s the principal institution — not government, not the state, not business, but the family — and that there has been this historic linkage between the institution of marriage and child-rearing and family, and the relationship of sexuality and marriage. All of those are at risk in this movement to redefine the notion of marriage.
One of the confusions that is prominent today is that whatever a society chooses to tolerate, it must also affirm. I don’t believe that’s true. We tolerate all kinds of speech which the government wouldn’t celebrate. A free society requires even freedom to offend, but no one would say because I have the freedom to say a racist remark that the state must treat it with equal respect or equal status. There are all kinds of ways in which we permit a broader range of freedom than we would hold up as ideal. In the same way, our society may accept a wide range of sexual behavior without criminal penalty; that’s different from saying society must treat all sexual behavior as having the same value for society.
Also impacting this debate is a kind of radical individualism, coupled sometimes with a kind of hedonism, which says that I ought to do what I want. [retrieved via Nexis, emphasis added]
Buzzard doesn’t seem to have changed his mind about the amendment since then. In a letter to the editor of the News &Observer last September, he criticized the paper for arguing in opposition to the amendment, writing:
[T]he ultimate effect of The N&O’s position is that it’s OK for judges to “amend” the constitution and define marriage as they wish – by construing broad constitutional language – but dangerous, reactionary and hostile to “rights” for citizens to amend their constitution to reflect their views. I guess rule by oligarchy – the elite “wise” people (judges) – is preferable to democratic processes where the people speak. [emphasis added]
For fifteen years, Buzzard was also executive director of the Christian Legal Society (CLS), a national organization of Christian lawyers with a history of anti-gay activism.
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the CLS in a case involving one of its student groups at the University of California Hastings. The Supreme Court upheld the university’s decision to revoke the student group’s recognition pursuant to university rules requiring groups to accept “all comers” after the group barred membership to “unrepentant homosexuals.”
In fact, a number of CLS student groups across the country have faced losing recognition after violating university guidelines prohibiting discrimination against gay and lesbian students.
William A. Woodruff
William A. Woodruff’s legal experience centers on issues relating to civil litigation, litigation involving the military, trial advocacy, and preparing law students entering the legal profession.
Woodruff has a history of anti-gay activism and legal work. Most notable he was a strong opponent of allowing gays to serve in the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). He appeared alongside a number of ant-gay Republican Senators to argue in opposition to lifting the ban on gay service members in 1993.
In 1995, he co-authored a law review article titled “Gays in the Military: What About Morality, Ethics, Character and Honor?,” again arguing in opposition to allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military.The article stated: “Service members who have a genuine propensity to indulge in homosexual acts have a serious handicap, which many would call a character defect, regardless of how soldierly, good, or noble they may be in other respects.”
That year, he penned another article in opposition to open homosexuality in the military, defending the proposition that “homosexual conduct” would harm “good order, discipline, moral, and unit cohesion.”
Like Buzzard, Woodruff is a member of the anti-gay Christian Legal Society.
E. Gregory Wallace
Associate Law Professor E. Gregory Wallace is the least vocally anti-gay of the three professors, but still strongly opposes marriage equality. According to his bio, he teaches “constitutional law with a concentration in free speech, church and state, and constitutional interpretation.”
As InterstateQ noted in February, Wallace isn’t an unbiased commentator when it comes to the debate over same-sex marriage. He has ties to the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law’s “Marriage Law Project” (MLP) a legal assistance program that “seeks to reaffirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
We believe that marriage is the unique union of a man and a woman, a community of life and love. Marriage so understood is built into the fabric of social life, and cannot be arbitrarily redefined by lawmakers. Male-female marriage provides incomparable benefits to society, especially for children and for those who invest their lives in raising their children. Our domestic and international laws should preserve, protect and promote the institution of marriage.
Redefining marriage to include same-sex unions will introduce unprecedented moral, social and legal confusion into our communities. It will not advance the causes of freedom, equality, justice, and human rights. Rather, it will weaken marriage, and ultimately undermine these causes too. [emphasis added]
In 2000, Wallace signed a similar statement directed towards the parliament of the Netherlands, which stated:
Redefining marriage to include same-sex unions will introduce unprecedented moral, social and legal confusion into our communities. The casualties of this confusion will be the families and children of the future, and therefore our societies as a whole.
We would remind the Dutch Parliament that many legal scholars, including the undersigned, do support marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In that respect, we represent the beliefs and practices of the overwhelming majority of humanity. No country is an island. Your actions will have fateful consequences not only for Europe, but for every country in the world. [emphasis added]
Family law professors from every law school in the state of North Carolina (including Campbell University) have criticized the white paper, reaffirming widespread concern about the marriage amendment’s vague wording.
While groups like Vote FOR Marriage NC have been all too eager to promote the professors’ white paper as an “independent” defense of the anti-gay marriage amendment, the reality is that all three of its authors have histories of anti-gay activism that call their neutral, unbiased judgment into question.
The above article can be found at: http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201204250001