The latest polling numbers confirm what many of us already knew about Amendment One: it has overwhelming support here in North Carolina (57% strongly support, 6% somewhat support, 5% somewhat oppose and 24% strongly oppose). Civitas recently asked the question:
“Do you support or oppose a constitutional amendment that says: Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State?
Because I have nothing better to do, I made this little graph so folks can see what these numbers actually look like:
Interestingly enough, support for Amendment One has actually increased here in Western North Carolina over the last three months (as opposed to holding at a relatively steady level of 60% plus statewide). For the full results and all the cool crosstabs from Civitas, click here).
And I’ll bet that tonight’s passage of a resolution by City Council in opposition to Amendment One will not only solidify those numbers, but bump them up a few notches. But more on all that shadowy election-year strategery in an upcoming post — let’s just say that the best traps in politics are the ones that your opponents on both sides step willingly into.
Anyhoo, despite the overwhelming likelihood of its passage, several top conservative thinkers in the state have recently weighed in — not only opposing Amendment One, but casting doubt on both its longevity and its constitutionality. If you’re a Republican — not to mention fancy yourself a conservative — you may be surprised to hear what they have to say.
Some excerpts (emphasis mine) from a recent story by The Institute of Southern Studies:
The cracks in the conservative coalition first emerged on March 26, when John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation — a think tank largely funded by Republican donor Art Pope — described the amendment as “unwise and unfair.”
Hood wrote this:
“I think amending North Carolina’s constitution to forbid gay and lesbian couples from receiving any future legal recognition, including civil unions, is unwise and unfair. In my opinion the real threat to marriage is not the prospect of gay people getting hitched. It is the reality of straight people too quickly resorting to divorce, or never getting hitched in the first place.”
In covering Hood’s statement, reporters turned to another prominent libertarian-leaning conservative, Bob Orr, a former state Supreme Court Justice who used to lead another Pope-backed project, the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law.
Orr predicts the amendment won’t endure legal scrutiny; as he told reporters:
“Any provision that has to be put into the ‘miscellaneous’ section of the constitution immediately raises questions about whether it should be in the state constitution. It’s probably not a provision that ought to be in.”
Oddly enough, that sentiment was echoed by none other than N.C. Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis, who in 2011 led the effort to bring the Amendment One ballot measure to the house floor and voted in favor of it.
Speaking to a group of students this week, Rep. Tillis predicted Amendment One would pass in May but repealed in 20 years because of changing views about gay marriage, saying:
“It’s a generational issue. If it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years.”
It wasn’t a one-time misstatement: Tillis’ spokesman later confirmed it accurately reflected the lawmaker’s views.
Richard Vinroot — Morehead scholar, a UNC basketball player, and a Bronze Star winner and former Republican mayor of Charlotte — has even recorded an ad against the amendment. This from Towleroad:
Says Vinroot: “[Amendment One] is unnecessary and may have serious unintended consequences.”
The mayors also point out the the negative economic impact of Amendment One and the fact that it would write discrimination into the constitution. Never before have the two mayors appeared together to oppose a statewide ballot measure.
Interesting stuff. As I’ve said before here, I’m utterly ambivalent about Amendment One. I don’t rely on the state for a job, or for benefits, much less some sort of validation for the relationships that I choose to have. I will say that Gay Marriage has been legal and accepted for nearly ten years in Canada — and as far as I know, the place hasn’t gone to hell. In fact, as far as the economy goes, they’re doing much better than we are. All that disposable income spent on gay bridal registries, I’m guessing.