The WTVI Debate on Amendment One – The lawyers square off

Public television station WTVI and the League of Women Voters put together a debate last week, which is now airing on-line, at the link below.

There were four debaters, all lawyers.  I’m one of them, the serious guy in the brown suit, whose mustache seems to grow on camera.

This was a good opportunity for some back and forth among lawyers on the legal issues, although I’m sure that all the debaters would agree that one minute opening and closing statements and a few minutes to answer legal questions was a challenge.

There were two debaters who are for the amendment.  One is attorney Tami Lawrence.  She was introduced as Executive Director of the NC Values Coalition, and Chairwoman of Vote for Marriage NC in Raleigh, which is the group leading the fight to pass the amendment.  She asked to be described as a person known for defending strong family values.

The other debater for the amendment is attorney Jordan Lawrence.  He was introduced as Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President of the Office of Strategic Initiatives for the Alliance Defense Fund, at its offices in Washington, D.C.. He has appeared in litigation in a number of states in free speech, civil rights and marriage cases.

John Wester is my co-debater against the amendment.  He is a Charlotte attorney and former President of the NC Bar Association.  He is a trial lawyer with Robinson Bradshaw and Hinson and has been active in representing indigent disabled persons. He is the Chairman of a new Mecklenburg Bar committee that is working to provide low-income individuals with access to legal representation.  He is a registered Republican.

I was introduced as a 28 year business and employment trial lawyer with McGuireWoods in its Charlotte office.  Mention was made of my pro bono work for the NC Legal Aid Society for victims of domestic violence and the fact that I am a registered unaffiliated voter.  I was not introduced as Straight But Not Narrow, but the moderator did share that I have been writing this blog, NC Amendment One Truth.

All the debaters are lawyers.  All appear to have what Ms. Fitzgerald would call traditional families.  The panel had no gay or lesbian individuals on it.

I will not try to break down the debate, or put in comments now that I wanted to make but felt constrained by the inability to do so given the time limitations.  Instead, I invite you to watch the debate, as it is.

I hope this debate helps to facilitate education on the subject of Amendment One.

Posted in Fact or Fiction, What People Are Saying | Leave a comment

The Domestic Violence Debate on Amendment One – You be the judge

Some say there are two sides to every debate.  There may be at least four sides to the debate about whether domestic violence protections will be impacted by Amendment One.

Tonight there was an Amendment One forum at Spirit Square in Charlotte sponsored by the Foundation for the Carolinas.

Believe it or not, it was a civil discussion.

One of the presenters, Mecklenburg County Chief District Court Judge Lisa Bell, presented one side, with an excellent overview of the domestic violence issues relating to Amendment One.  She explained the NC law of domestic violence, and how the focus is on personal relationships, rather than marital relationships.

Judge Bell also discussed the Ohio experience with domestic violence after Ohio adopted a marriage amendment, including the number of Judges who ruled that domestic violence statutes were unconstitutional after the amendment was adopted and how the issue wasn’t resolved for three years until the Supreme Court of Ohio said otherwise.  She explained that the language of Amendment One would require interpretation by judges across the state.  Some could rule one way.  Some could rule the other.  No one knows what the outcome will be in particular cases in the trial courts or on appeal.

Yesterday, the group promoting Amendment One, presented another side, when it took an adamant stand that clarity exists on this issue, based on the opinions of some district attorneys, lawyers and sheriffs in the state.

Here is how Tami Fitzgerald, head of the group that likes to call this amendment a vote for marriage, presented the issue.

From: Sent: 5/1/2012 6:18:33 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time Subj: Domestic Violence Claims: REFUTED

Dear Marriage Supporter,

This morning, a group of District Attorneys, law professionals, and law enforcement officers joined forces to squash the lies circulating from those in opposition to the Marriage Protection Amendment. They stoutly rebutted the claims of our opposition and made it clear –  the amendment will not impact domestic violence protections for North      Carolina citizens.

The leader of the press conference, Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger, Jr., said, “[R]eason and common sense seems to be lost in this debate.” Berger described the oppositions’ falsehoods  as “a parade of horribles.” The legal professionals attending the press conference affirmed the truths of North Carolina State Law 50b and 50c.  Phil Berger, jr., summed it up by saying, “[T]his Amendment will have no impact on domestic violence prosecution.”

Jeff Hunt, a District Attorney from Henderson,  Polk, and TransylvaniaCounties said,  “I urge the public to take a look at this. Do not fall for false analyses. I am amazed that these claims are even being made by lawyers,  but I can assure you that the Amendment does not weaken our protections of children. It does not weaken the 50b and 50c protections. It does not  weaken domestic violence protections in any way.”

The following legal professionals have signed on to a joint statement affirming the truths behind the Marriage Protection Amendment:

Phil Berger Jr – DA, Prosecutorial District #17A   (RockinghamCounty)  Locke Bell – DA, Prosecutorial District #27A (Gaston County)  Wallace Bradsher – DA, Prosecutorial District #09A  (Caswell and PersonCounties)  Raven Byrne – Family Law Attorney (Wake County Garry Frank – DA, Prosecutorial District #22B (Davidson and DavieCounties)     Jay Gaither – DA, Prosecutorial District #25 (Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties)       Jeff Hunt – DA, Prosecutorial District #29B (Henderson, Polk, and Transylvania Counties), Sheriff  Terry Johnson – Alamance County  Tom Keith – Fmr. DA, Prosecutorial District #21 (Forsyth County),  John Snyder – Fmr. DA, Prosecutorial District #20B (Union County)  Jerry Wilson – DA, Prosecutorial District #24 (Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga, and Yancey Counties) Sheriff  Carey Winders – Wayne County  Paul Wright – Fmr. Superior Court Judge

Thank you for continuing the fight for the truth behind this Amendment.  We need strength and courage now more than ever. Thank  you to the above signers for leading that charge so successfully.


Tami Fitzgerald, Chairwoman       Vote FOR Marriage NC

Transition now to a third side of this debate, where an article was posted on the website that opposes Amendment One.

The Protect ALL NC Families coalition has released their third ad opposing the amendment that would add the following language to the North Carolina constitution:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.

It revisits and reinforces the message the first ad unveiled a week ago. In that ad a survivor of domestic violence discussed her fear of the Consequences Amendment One’s passage may have on her safety and that of her daughter.

Proponents of the bill continue to call the danger to domestic violence laws “lies” but thus far no one other than their three paid hired legal guns-for-hire “experts” seems to be agreeing with them. Their “experts” practice in the areas of international law, military litigation, free speech, church and state issues. None of them appear to have any experience in family, criminal litigation, or constitutional law.

Featured in the newest ad is Assistant District Attorney Amily McCool, who can rightfully be described as an “expert” on this subject, having handled hundreds and hundreds of cases of domestic violence prosecutions for Wake County, North Carolina.

In particular, McCool often relies on domestic violence law N.C. Gen. Stat. 50B-1 (2009). That statute reads:

For purposes of this section, the term “personal relationship” means a relationship wherein the parties involved: (1) Are current or former spouses; (2) Are persons of opposite sex who live together or have lived together; (3) Are related as parents and children, including others acting in loco parentis to a minor child, or as grandparents and grandchildren; (4) Have a child in common; (5) Are current or former household members; (6) Are persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship.

At issue: will defense attorneys be able to argue the state cannot “recognize” many of these relationships for the purposes of prosecuting crimes? No one knows. Every law professor in North Carolina says it’s possible. Roy Cooper, NC’s Attorney General called the law“unclear, unwise and unnecessary” and said it “will also result in a significant amount of litigation on many issues which will be decided by courts for years to come.”

We do know the state of Ohio spent several years arguing about this very issue while 27 men were able to get their charges overturned or dismissed.

If anyone is an “expert” on domestic violence law, I would think it would be McCool who works with these laws day in and day out.

Another expert is Elizabeth Froehling, executive director of North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Froehling wrote in Durham, NC’s Herald-Sun: “Amendment One: A real danger to domestic violence victims.”A sad, and (to me) surprisingly high statistic is that 50,000 North Carolinians seek domestic violence services each year.

In Virginia, where a similar amendment was considered and subsequently passed, domestic violence programs frantically tried to come up with ways to get more victims into shelters because victims could no longer access protective orders that kept them safe in their own homes. Our state will see the same problem. An increase in the need for shelter by unmarried victims of domestic violence means more money spent on sheltering while abusers are allowed to stay in their homes. It also means that already strained shelter programs may have to turn away victims fleeing abuse.Proponents of the amendment say its passage won’t negatively impact domestic violence victims. But we know the far-reaching harmful consequences are a real possibility. In Ohio, after the passage of an amendment less restrictive than the one being considered in North Carolina, defense attorneys successfully argued that domestic violence laws did not apply for unmarried people because the state’s Constitution didn’t recognize a special status for unmarried people in a marriage-like relationship.

It’s striking that proponents of the bill seem so blithely unconcerned about 50,000 families who need the protection of the state from their abusive, but unmarried, partners.

McCool previously framed this topic with a very sharp point:

Amily McCool, Asst DA of Wake Co: #Amendment1 would mean victims of domestic violence would have to marry their attacker for protection

Now let’s pick up with the fourth side of this debate, with a recent article by Suzanne Reynolds, a family law professor at Wake Forest Law School.

Amendment One and the Law of Domestic Violence

On Tuesday, May 1, a dozen current or former district attorneys, judges, lawyers, or law enforcement personnel issued a statement about Amendment One, claiming that if it passed, it would have no impact on the law of domestic violence.   At the press conference on the statement, the spokesperson referred to “false and misleading” claims about the Amendment and the law of domestic violence.   Since I have spoken and written about Amendment One and its potential impact on domestic violence, I’d like to explain why I conclude that the threat is real.

The statement issued on May 1 correctly points out that the law of domestic violence currently protects both married and unmarried couples who live in the same household.  Pointing out what the law does now, however, completely misses the point.  What I am afraid of occurs only if Amendment One passes.

Unlike other law protecting us from criminal conduct, domestic violence law requires that the victim and batterer have a “personal relationship.”  We learned by tragic experience in this country and state that the more general law of assault and battery simply is inadequate to address the very different threat of violence in the home.  Before someone is entitled to the extraordinary relief that the law of domestic violence provides, however, the victim must have a “personal relationship” with the batterer.  Currently in North Carolina, a victim may invoke the law of domestic violence for her protection even if that “personal relationship” is an unmarried relationship – between persons of the same or different sexes.

But if Amendment One passes, the state constitution ties the state’s hands:  the state will be constitutionally forbidden from recognizing an unmarried relationship as a valid “domestic legal union.”   If a batterer lives with his victim – of the same or different sex – he will surely argue that the victim lives in a domestic union that the state constitution declares is no longer legal.  Consequently, she must rely on the law of assault and battery – law that we already know is inadequate to the special vulnerability of someone who is battered in the home.

Why am I so certain that batterers will raise these arguments?  Because in states with marriage-related amendments, they already have.    The domestic violence laws of these other states, like the current domestic violence law of North Carolina, protected persons who were unmarried.  But after the state passed a marriage-related amendment, batterers argued that the amendment restricted domestic violence protection to married victims and batterers.

Eventually the appellate courts of both states concluded that the wording of the constitutional amendments did not prevent the state from continuing to use domestic violence law to protect victims in unmarried relationships.  But, both of those amendments were much narrower than the breathtakingly broad Amendment One.  In both states, the marriage-related amendments restricted the state only from creating a status that approximated marriage.

That is not what Amendment One does.  Amendment One tells the state of North Carolina that no domestic union except marriage is legal or valid.  Perhaps the leadership of Amendment One wishes that it had not proposed an amendment with such far-reaching potential consequences.   But that’s the Amendment on the ballot.

If the group that spoke on May 1 thinks that the claim I just described is false, let me explain that family law professors at every law school in the state agree with me.  I respect the group who spoke on May 1, but their job is different from the job of a family law professor.  The job of family law professors includes speaking up when laws pose unintended harm to the family.  And for family law professors, no matter how a person’s family came into being, all members of that family deserve the most effective law the state can provide to keep them from being beaten.

In the experience of other states, eventually the appellate courts determined that the marriage-related amendment allowed the state to continue to use its law of domestic violence for victims in unmarried relationships.  If Amendment One forces the issue, I will certainly argue that our much broader amendment nevertheless allows the state to continue to recognize unmarried relationships as “valid” for purposes of domestic violence protection.  But I don’t know if that argument will prevail, and with all due respect, neither does the group that appeared on May 1.

At a minimum, we can expect that the law will be unclear for a period of time, a period of time during which victims of domestic violence will be at greater risk.  I’m not willing to tolerate that risk, and I hope a majority of the voters of North Carolina aren’t either.

Suzanne Reynolds

So, after hearing all four sides of this discussion, the answer to this riddle should be as clear as the proverbial bell, right?

Well, no.  Judge Bell didn’t issue a ruling on the question.  And while Vote For said there will be no effect, Vote Against said there will be a problem.  And the law professor said there might be an issue, and she is awfully concerned.

All of which gets us back to where we started.

This issue would not exist if the legislature had kept the focus on “marriage”, rather than on the term”domestic legal union”.  If they had done so, the “against” side would have no argument on this issue, and the “for” side would be voting on what it claims to be voting on now, marriage.

Just to be clear, what I mean is that if the legislature had gone with the House Bill, saying that marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only “marriage” recognized in the state, then other domestic legal unions would not be subject to attack.

I have no idea how this issue will be sorted out in the Courts, but as the Ohio experience shows, it could take a while.

So you be the judge. But when you have ruled, keep in mind that we won’t know whether you are right, at least for several years to come.

All of which presents the possibility for problems along the way.  One way to be certain that problems won’t occur is to make the legislature bring us a better law to vote on.

One way to do that is to Vote No on the one they just brought us.

Posted in Fact or Fiction | 5 Comments

Amendment One – Is it a Shotgun Wedding or a Shotgun Target Practice?

You know the story.  Young couple gets pregnant in the backwoods of somewhere.  Daddy gets his shotgun out and there is a marriage under the nearest oak tree.

In this little Hatfield and McCoy drama, everyone at the wedding is uncomfortable.  Daddy ain’t happy about all the misbehavin.  Momma is crying about Daddy’s shotgun aimed in the direction of her little girl.  Daughter is embarrassed and confused.  And the new son-in-law has that sort of “shell-shocked” expression on his face.

The shotgun wedding tale is a bit like the Amendment One vote.  Daddy Paul Stam and Daddy Tom Tillis thought it would be a good idea to drag all North Carolinians under the nearest voting booth oak tree for a ceremony of sorts.  And just like the shotgun wedding, no one is happy.

In the Amendment One version of the Shotgun Wedding, everyone is in favor of weddings, but there is massive discontent.  Some present are angry that others have been misbehavin and want to help Daddy Paul and Daddy Tom steady their shotguns.  Some present are not comfortable because even though they like weddings, they are confused about why we have to drag people to them.  Some are anxious and embarrassed and some are just downright shell-shocked that someone could do this to them.

The politicians of this State should be embarrassed by their “initiative”.   Amendment One is not a matter of letting the voters decide on marriage as much as it is a matter of forcing them to decide under strained circumstances.

And worse yet, Amendment One is not just about marriage, but just try telling that to someone who is pointing their figurative shotgun in your direction.

And even worse yet, Amendment One has sparked emotions that didn’t need to be sparked.  Vandalism by both sides.  Name calling by both sides.  Bigotry.  Cynicism.  Tears.

And because of all this, we have an idiot mentality developing in the minds of some North Carolinians.

Exhibit A to this idiocy is another shotgun story, but one that suggests we have lost our bearing in this debate.

At the link below you will see a video of a NC man firing shotgun shells into a yard sign like the one I have in my front yard.  He loads, fires and then laughs about it, all in the name of marriage between one man and one woman.

Here is the story, as reported on

Video of a North Carolina man firing a shotgun at a sign against the state’s proposed amendment banning same-sex marriage has gone viral, even after he removed it from YouTube.

“Right now there is this amendment trying to be passed, Amendment One, and it’s going to state that marriage is between one man and one woman, which is how it ought to be,” the man who identifies himself as Alex Wiles opines in the video.

“So, somebody decided it would be a good idea to put this sign near my house,” he continues as he puts on a pair of amber shooting glasses. “They ought to know not to put stuff like that near my house.”

With that, Wiles pumps a shell into what appears to be a 12-guage pump-action shotgun, takes aim and unloads two rounds into the yard sign.

“That’s how we do it ’round here,” he explains with a grin. “That’s all folks.”

Gawker’s Louis Peitzman snarked that the video amounted to “brilliant political commentary from a trigger-happy asshole with a YouTube account.”

“Hey, if you can’t shoot gay people directly, might as well shoot signs supporting LGBT rights,” Peitzman wrote.

The blog Joe My God, which first flagged the video, reported that the police department in Kannopolis, North Carolina said they would classify the incident as a crime “if the shotgun was fired onto property that includes a home or business.”

Although Wiles has deleted the video from his YouTube account, other copies remain available online.

For both of these stories, whether it be the Shotgun Wedding or the Shotgun Target Practice, we have our legislative leaders to thank.

Please thank them with your vote “against” Amendment One on May 8th!

Posted in Twists and turns | Leave a comment

News: NC NAACP Seeks to Expose the Truth About Amendment One

The North Carolina NAACP is aligning itself on the right side of history, with its recent efforts to educate on Amendment One, as reported below:

This week, in the face of an extreme right-wing attack on minorities and the poor, the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP is rolling out a major media campaign to make clear the facts and constitutional dangers facing all North Carolinians through the discriminatory Amendment One.

Through ads in African-American newspapers, radio spots across the state, mailers, and robocalls to tens of thousands North Carolina voters, and brochures distributed to over fifty counties through grassroots NAACP branch leadership, the public education campaign is already resonating with everyday North Carolinians.

“The polls and the politicians are asking the wrong questions on this discriminatory amendment, hatched in the backrooms of the extremist, right-wing think-tanks,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. “Our message is consistent: A vote on the same-sex marriage amendment has nothing to do with your personal and religious opinion on same-sex marriage but everything to do with whether or not you believe discrimination should be codified and legalized constitutionally. We should never seek to codify or vote discrimination into the very heart and framework of our Constitution.”

Dr. Barber continued, “The real insult to the Civil Rights Movement is that the same regressive, ultra-conservative Tea Party type folks suing to overturn the 1965 Voting Rights Act, re-segregating and robbing our public schools of valuable resources, blocking workers’ rights to organize, trying to force us all to get photo ID’s to exercise our right to vote and cut back on the time and opportunities to vote, and attempting to repeal the Racial Justice Act, now somehow think the sons and daughters of the Civil Rights Movement cannot see through their Trojan Horse trick.”

Secret documents from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), recently unsealed by the courts, revealed the real strategy behind this amendment. Their 2009 report reads:

‘The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of his party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates … find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.'”

Dr. Barber said, “On the grassroots level we get a very different response when we cut through the Trojan Horse trick of the Tea Party backed forces and ask ‘Do you think we should tamper with the protections of the 14th Amendment and the Equal Protection Under the Law clause, or Section One of the North Carolina Constitution?’ When we ask ‘Do you believe, especially in the South, we should create a precedent whereby the majority votes on the rights of a minority?’ the sinister divide and conquer rhetoric is torn asunder.

When people find out that groups leading the pro-Amendment efforts, like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, are affiliated with national organizations identified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, they are horrified by the deceitful Amendment One. When people find out that the amendment could also negatively impact heterosexual couples, take away domestic violence protections for women, strip legal recognition and protection from unmarried couples and leave families and children with no basic access to healthcare and prescription drug coverage, people overwhelmingly see through the distractions and tricks and say, ‘We won’t be fooled. Not on our watch!'”

The radio spots, already running across the state, will be available at www.naacpnc.orglater.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.

The NAACP is saying “Vote AGAINST Amendment One on May 8th!”

The NAACP has put out a list of the top ten reasons to vote against Amendment One at its website:

The number one reason given by the NAACP to vote against Amendment One is worth attention by majorities and by any minority group who believes that the civil rights movement is over or that the term “civil rights” belongs to only certain minorities:

1. For 102 years the NAACP’s mission has always been to “ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons.” We have always opposed any custom, tradition, practice, law or constitutional amendment that denies any rights, privileges, or opportunities to any person which can legally be extended to others. We should never codify discrimination, division and hate into our Constitution. All people have a right to equal protection under the law.

As a 54-year-old white guy, who is Straight but not Narrow, I am proud to put this message by the NAACP on my blog site, because it speaks to the truth of this debate — that all people, and in particular, all minorities, deserve to be protected by our Constitution, not trampled on by it by the religious or exclusive will of the majority.

Section 1 of the NC Constitution speaks to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  What right do we have to determine whose happiness deserves protection and whose does not?

Please join me in saluting the NAACP for helping people understand that defeating Amendment One is not the job of one political party, nor is it the job of one race versus another. Defeating Amendment One is the job of all people in NC who care about our Constitution.

A vote “against” will send a message that discrimination will not be tolerated in our Constitution, whether in the name of religion, bigotry, or ignorance.

The truth of this message is simple: Vote No, because it is the right thing to do, and because North Carolina is better than the amendment with which it has been presented.

Posted in What People Are Saying | 2 Comments

Buzzardgate, Campbellgate or Tamigate — Uncovering the Amendment One truth behind the Campbell law professors’ paper

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.”

Woodruff was also included in the acknowledgments for The Pink Swastika, a book that argues, among other things, that the Nazi Party “is best understood as a neo-pagan, homosexual cult.”

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.”

In 1999, Wallace signed MLP’s London Conference Statement, which stated:

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:

Posted in Twists and turns | 9 Comments

Guest Post – A Legal Analysis of Amendment One by Family Law Professor Suzanne Reynolds

This post is courtesy of Family Law professor Suzanne Reynolds of Wake Forest University School of Law, where she also serves as Executive Associate Dean Academic Affairs.

Suzanne Reynolds is widely respected for her scholarship and teaching about family law and for her public service. She was a principal drafter of statutes that modernized the law of both alimony and of adoption, and she co-founded a domestic violence program that received national recognition by the ABA for providing legal assistance to the poor.

Suzanne authored a three-volume treatise on North Carolina family law that has become the authoritative source for law students, lawyers, and judges, and for many years she has taught the family law portion of the bar review course.

She was the recipient of a Distinguished Woman of the Year award presented by Governor Hunt in 1998 and of the Gwyneth B. Davis award for Public Service presented by N.C. Association of Women Attorneys in 1996.

Suzanne has been a frequent speaker on Amendment One and was kind enough to share these materials, which she has used to make presentations to numerous audiences. In these materials, she breaks down some of the legal issues of Amendment One. 

It is helpful to note that Suzanne’s opinions are consistent with those of UNC Law professor Maxine Eichner, who has posted on this site and who is widely recognized for her legal analysis of Amendment One.  It also is consistent with the comments of Charlotte Law School professor Scott Sigman, who has commented on this site and who also has spoken to numerous audiences about Amendment One.

Amendment One:
The View from a Family Law Professor: Suzanne Reynolds

The Proposed Amendment

Amend Article 14 — new Sec. 6. Marriage.

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts. (emphasis added).

The Ballot 

Q. What will the ballot ask voters what they are “for” or “against”?

A. “Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”  [Note the absence of the second sentence.] 

Consequences to unmarried families – straight or gay


3 kinds of amendments among the 30 marriage amendments:

(1) Ban same-sex marriage only (10 states)

“The only marriage this state may recognize is a marriage between a man and a woman.”

(2) Ban same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships and civil unions

(17 states)

“The only marriage this state may recognize is a marriage between a man and a woman.  The state may not create any other legal status to approximate a marriage.”

(3) Ban same-sex marriage, domestic partnerships and civil unions, and recognition of other rights for domestic partnerships (3 states)

Only Michigan, Idaho, and South Carolina – and NC if it passes Amendment One.

Consequences to unmarried families – straight or gay

1.    NC cannot pass legislation allowing for the registration of domestic partnerships or civil unions and granting some rights for  these couples after registration.  

2.    Public employers cannot recognize benefits for the domestic partners of their employees (the State of NC; state universities; public hospitals, municipalities, etc.).

Michigan: “the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”  (Mich. Const. art. I, § 25) National Pride at Work v. Michigan, 481 Mich. 56, 60, 748 N.W.2d 524, 530 (2008)(public employers may not provide health insurance benefits to domestic partners of their employees).

Idaho: “A marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”  (Idaho Const. art. III § 28 City of Moscow, Health Insurance Policy, Idaho Op. Att’y Gen. 9 (2008)).

3.    Passage of the amendment would jeopardize the recognition of the protection of the domestic violence laws to unmarried couples.   

Domestic violence law:  special protections for violence in the home because the criminal law was simply inadequate; special staffing for victim assistance; pro se friendly;                   expedited procedures;  special arrest provisions; special bail provisions; shelters

But, must be in a “personal relationship” : married or have been; never married couples, same-sex or different sex; dating relationship

What if the personal relationship is an “illegal domestic union”?  Does it violate public policy to rely on an “illegal domestic union” as the “personal relationship” that entitles a person to use the extraordinary remedies of the law of domestic violence?

The Ohio amendment:  a category 2 amendment.

–Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage. (Ohio Const. art. XV, § 11).

–3 years of denying domestic violence protection to victims in Ohio who were not married to their batterers (in gay or straight relationships).

The NC amendment:  a category 3 amendment.

–Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.

–Can a “personal relationship” that is an “illegal domestic union” provide the basis for the extraordinary remedy afforded by domestic violence legislation?

4.     Will the law of custody favor a parent who is married over a parent who lives in an “illegal domestic union”?   

E.g.  After Mom and Dad split up, Child lives with Mom.  At some point, domestic partner moves in with Mom.  Later Dad re-marries.  In a custody dispute, of what significance will it be that Mom lives in an “illegal domestic union”?

Or  Mary and Molly live together.  Molly conceives by assisted conception, and they raise Child as equal parents.  If Mary and Molly split up, may the court recognize parental rights in Mary, the non-parent, even though she was in an “illegal domestic union”?

Consequences to unmarried families – straight or gay

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.  These are some of the consequences:

1.   NC cannot pass legislation allowing for the registration of domestic partnerships or civil unions and granting some rights for  these couples after registration. 

2.    Public employers cannot recognize benefits for the domestic partners of their employees.

3.   It jeopardizes the use of domestic violence laws for unmarried couples.

4.   It raises questions about whether the law of custody will disfavor parents in an “illegal domestic union.”  

5.   It raises questions about whether private employers can continue to give benefits to the domestic partners of their employees. 

6.   It raises questions about whether the state will give effect to official forms naming an unmarried partner. 

 In conclusion, a vote against Amendment One

–Does not change the law on same-sex marriage:  remains against the law of NC

–Allows duly elected legislators to consider at some point in the future whether to recognize domestic partnerships or civil unions

–Protects NC families with the current law of public employer benefits, domestic violence, and child custody

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Guest Post – UNC Law School Professor Maxine Eichner responds to the Amendment One legal analysis of Professor Wallace

This is a post courtesy of UNC law school professor Maxine Eichner, in which she responds to a recent post by Campbell law professor Gregory Wallace on the legal issues of Amendment One.

Professor Eichner attended Yale College and Yale Law School and she  has a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She  joined the faculty of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law in January 2003 after practicing law in the areas of civil rights, women’s rights, and employment law. Her teaching interests include sex equality, family law, legal theory and torts

Dear Landis,

Thank you for giving me the chance to respond to Professor Wallace’s post.   Certainly much of it, and the paper that Professor Wallace coauthored with Professors Buzzard and Woodruff, I agree with: 

–this amendment could have been stated with more clarity (p. 1);

–its prohibitions will be significantly broader than our current ban on same-sex marriage in North Carolina law, invalidating not only same-sex marriage, but civil unions and domestic partnerships (p.2);

–courts will ultimately need to resolve the issue of its scope (p.7);

–and predicting with any certainty how they will do so is impossible (p.7). 

Furthermore, I agree that citizens need to take into account the fact that family law professors at every law school in the state, including Campbell, disagree with the conclusions of the Buzzard paper, and they also need to weigh the quality of the arguments in the UNC paper against the quality of arguments in the Buzzard paper.   (I use the term “Buzzard paper” rather than “Campbell paper” because Prof. Jean Cary, Campbell’s family law professor, has specifically asked that the paper not be referred to as the “Campbell paper,” since she and other Campbell Law professors disagree with it.)

To help readers assess the quality of the arguments made in the Buzzard paper, my comments center on its key contention.  My co-authors at UNC and I had stated in our paper that the Amendment’s use of the term “domestic legal union,” and its ban on recognizing such unions, could be construed by courts to bar giving legal effects to any unmarried couple relationship other than marriage.  The central contention of the Buzzard paper is that courts would not construe the term so broadly.  In the Buzzard paper’s words:

While the precise phrase “domestic legal union” is neither defined in the proposed Amendment nor heretofore has been used in North Carolina law, it plainly refers to marriage or marriage imitations or substitutes. The key term is “union”—not domestic “relationships,” as Professor Eichner argues. The Amendment does not forbid the legal recognition or validity of all domestic relationships, but only of domestic “unions.” The flaw in Professor Eichner’s analysis is that she does not give the term “union” its proper effect in limiting the Amendment’s reach. 

The authors then contend that the term “union” will be construed narrowly to mean “marriage-like relationships” based on the following: 

North Carolina courts frequently have used the term “union” to describe the marital relationship. Black’s Law Dictionary defines marriage as the “[t]he legal union of a couple as spouses.” Thus, in the context of the proposed Amendment, a “domestic legal union” is a marriage or legal status resembling marriage.

There are a number of problems with this argument, but let me point out three:

  1. The Buzzard Paper Uses Flawed Logic To Construe The Term “Union” Narrowly

Recognize that the Buzzard paper authors don’t use the Black’s Law Dictionary definition of the term “union” to determine the meaning of the word (since this definition is unhelpful), but instead rely on the fact that the term “union” is used in the definition of the term “marriage.” Similarly, they rely on the fact that North Carolina courts sometime describe marriages as “unions” to support their point. 

This argument contains a fundamental logical error: The Buzzard paper authors seek to define the scope of the term “union” based on the fact that they can identify one member (marriage) of the category that comprises the term “union.”  But knowing a single member of a particular category tells us little to nothing about how broadly to define the scope of the category.  To follow this logic, if we didn’t know what the term “fruit” meant, but found in the dictionary that an apple was “a fruit with red skin,” we could then determine that an orange wasn’t a fruit because it wasn’t apple-like.  The fact that the Buzzard Paper authors grasp at such a slim reed shows exactly how difficult it is to pin down a definition of the term “domestic legal union,” and highlights the uncertainty of the scope of the amendment. 

2.  The Buzzard Paper Reads Language Into Our Proposed Amendment That Amendments In Other States Possess, But That Our Amendment Does Not

   Professor Wallace goes on to say in his post to say that:

the term “union,” along with the terms “domestic” and “legal,” have been used in other state marriage amendments in ways that clearly limit those amendments to marriage and legal substitutes for marriage, such as civil unions or domestic relationships. Here are just two examples—there are more in our paper:

The North Dakota Constitution states that ‘[m]arriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman. No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect.’

The Florida Constitution states that “[i]nasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

I couldn’t agree with Mr. Wallace more on this point.  It is the fact that our amendment lacks the language banning recognition of “domestic legal unions” only when they are equivalent to marriage that makes our amendment’s language potentially broader than marriage amendments in almost every other state.  Construed literally, our amendment would bar any recognition of “domestic legal unions” whatsoever, whereas these other states bar only recognition that rises to the level of marriage.

The presence of this limiting language in other states has been critical to restricting the scope of their amendments.  Consider the case in which the Kansas Court of Appeals held that its state’s domestic violence protections were not invalidated by its state amendment, Kansas v. Curreri,  42 Kan. App. 2d 460; 213 P.3d 1084 (2009).  Kansas’s amendment states  that “No relationship, other than a marriage, shall be recognized by the state as entitling the parties to the rights or incidents of marriage.”   In upholding the constitutionality of its domestic violence protections, the Kansas Court of Appeals stated:

It is noteworthy that the constitutional amendment does not refer to “a right or an incident of marriage.” Its reference to “the rights or incidents of marriage” obviously refers not to an isolated right that a married person may share in common  with nonmarried persons, but rather the “bundle of rights” that identifies marriage as a distinct and separate institution. This provision in the amendment seeks to cut off attempts to circumvent the amendment’s definition of marriage by those seeking recognition of a relationship, other than between one man and one woman, which otherwise purports to bear all the hallmarks of a conventional marriage.

In failing to include the “rights or incidents of marriage” language, or other language that bars recognition only of statuses that grant an equivalent bundle of rights to that accorded marriage, North Carolina’s amendment leaves open the possibility that it will be construed to forbid recognition of a relationship that is accorded any of the hallmarks of marriage.

3.   The Michigan Supreme Court’s Interpretation  Undercuts the Buzzard Paper’s Contention

The Michigan Supreme Court’s interpretation of the term “union” in its constitutional amendment also belies the central claim of the Buzzard paper.  Michigan’s amendment states that “the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”  In construing the amendment to preclude public employers from offering health insurance benefits to their employees’ domestic partners, the Michigan Supreme Court stated: 

The pertinent question is . . . whether the public employers are recognizing a domestic partnership as a union similar to a marriage. A “union” is “something formed by uniting two or more things; combination; . . . a number of persons, states, etc., joined or associated together for some common purpose.” Random House Webster’s College Dictionary (1991). Certainly, when two people join together for a common purpose and legal consequences arise from that relationship, i.e., a public entity accords legal significance to this relationship, a union may be said to be formed.

Note that the Court referred to the relationship, rather than the legal status, as the “union,” contradicting the Buzzard paper’s contention.  The Michigan high court then held that the fact that the state granted these relationships only health insurance benefits, rather than the full range of benefits granted through heterosexual marriage, would not save the challenged policies from the amendment’s prohibition. Instead, the Court held, any benefits accorded to a relationship by the state or its affiliates would constitute unconstitutional recognition of the union in violation of the amendment, so long as the relationship at stake was a non-marital conjugal relationship:

[T]he pertinent question for purposes of the marriage amendment is not whether these relationships give rise to identical, or even similar, legal rights and responsibilities, but whether these relationships are similar in nature in the context of the marriage amendment . . ., i.e., for the purpose of a constitutional provision that prohibits the recognition of unions similar to marriage “for any purpose.” If they are, then there can be no legal cognizance given to the similar relationship. Id. at n.6

In sum, the takeaway point of this whole exercise is that none of us can predict how courts will eventually decide to interpret the vague and untested language of our proposed constitutional amendment. 

Best,  Maxine Eichner 

Post script by Landis Wade:  Just as I linked the full papers for Professor Wallace, the full papers and articles written by Professor Eichner can be found under her biographical information at this link:

Also, additional information pertinent to this debate is the Statement referred to by Professor Wallace in his blog post that was signed by 12 law professors at all 7 NC law schools, after the report he and his colleagues prepared.


We are family law professors who teach at every law school in the state of North Carolina. We speak on behalf of ourselves, rather than our institutions. Based on our professional expertise, the language of the proposed North Carolina amendment is vague and untested, and threatens harms to a broad range of North Carolina families. The amendment is phrased more broadly than most similar amendments in other states, and would therefore likely be construed by courts more broadly than in other states. The amendment would certainly ban same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships, and would very likely ban the domestic partnership health insurance benefits that a number of municipalities and counties currently offer to same- and opposite-sex unmarried couples. It also threatens a range of other protections for unmarried partners and their children, including domestic violence protections and child custody law. We are aware that some law professors at Campbell Law School think otherwise. In our view, this disagreement simply underscores the fact that Amendment One is vaguely worded and that it is not possible to know how broadly it will eventually be construed.

April 20, 2012

Jean Cary Professor of Law Campbell Law School

Scott Sigman Associate Professor Charlotte School of Law

Katharine Bartlett A. Kenneth Pye Professor of Law

Kathryn Bradley Professor of the Practice of Law Director of Legal Ethics

Carolyn McAllaster Clinical Professor of Law Director, Duke Legal Project

Duke Law School

Sonya Garza Assistant Professor Elon School of Law

Kia H. Vernon Assistant Professor of Law North Carolina Central School of Law

Maxine Eichner

Reef C. Ivey II Professor of Law

Holning S. Lau Associate Professor

UNC School of Law

Jennifer Collins Professor of Law

Suzanne Reynolds Executive Associate Dean and Professor of Law

Wake Forest School of Law

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