"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A is For........Amendment One

My good friend has accepted a sort of blog challenge, to write as near as possible to a post a day, one for each letter of the alphabet. I am happily joining in as a way to encourage me into the regular writing habit. I figured why not start with a bang, my opinion on the soon to be voted upon North Carolina Marriage Amendment. So, here we go....

A is for Amendment One.

Amendment One is better known as the Marriage Amendment and will appear on primary ballots in a few weeks, May 8th to be exact. The amendment was passed by both chambers of the legislature last session and now goes before the people for a final up or down vote. The purpose of the amendment, if you haven't already heard or figured it out, is to codify into the state constitution what is already NC state law, that marriage is defined as between one man and one woman.  Here is the exact text of the amendment (though NOT what will appear on ballot):

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.
The ballot will ask voters to give a yes or no on the following:
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.

It's close, but I have no idea why the actual text of the amendment will not appear on the ballot. I suspect the reason has a lot to do with political maneuvering and gamesmanship that would just disgust me even more, so I've not looked into it, honestly.

I will be voting a big, solid NO on this one. I suppose that makes me a RINO in some people's eyes, but so be it. I've always bent more to the libertarian side anyhow. I am a Republican because I see them as the party with the most realistic chance to protect my freedoms and those of everyone else. I believe the rights of the individual trump the interest of the collective, because individual rights are the basic building block of a free and prosperous society. I believe we are a country ruled by laws and not by men, something I was very happy to find in the Jaycee Creed back when we formed a chapter. And I believe this amendment flies in the face of all these things.

To begin with, and this sounds on the surface to be flippant, but I have a serious point, if this amendment passes it will become a part of Article XIV of the North Carolina Constitution. Any idea what that article is labeled? "Miscellaneous." For real, we have a whole article in our constitution, with five sections perhaps soon to become six, labeled "Miscellaneous." The North Carolina Constitution is a massive document compared to the United States Constitution. I believe a constitution should clearly define the limited things a government is empowered to do, and as such I would prefer it to be short. I believe that anything that finds itself in an article entitled "Miscellaneous" is a bad idea on its face.

It is also my strong belief that constitutions and their amendments should be restrictive of the powers of government, and not restrictive of the freedoms of citizens. The founders got it exactly right in pointing out the the reason men form governments is to make secure their God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Restrictions on freedom are justified only if the exercise of those freedoms by one individual would tend to restrict or trample upon the freedoms of another individual. Hence you do not, and should not, have the freedom to deprive me of my life, liberty or property. Two consenting adults, whatever the gender, do not infringe upon the rights of me or anyone else when they enter into a marriage contract with each other. The only role government should play in marriage is the enforcement of the legal contract and the making certain those entering into it are of age and competent to make the decision. The state is fully justified in restricting who can marry in terms of age and relation to each other, one to protect minors and the other to protect the possible children of a genetically too-similar union. Laws against polygamy are justified because the practice almost always leads to the subjugation of women. Big Love is a fantasy, folks. The marriage of a same-sex couple carries none of these problems, and so the state has no justification forbidding it.

By the same token, I don't believe the state has any right to force any clergy to perform a marriage on a same-sex couple. This is a case of the couple's freedom to marry interfering with the freedom of the clergyman to hold to his beliefs. The state has no role in the affairs of a church or other religious organization anyhow. The state can put the civil law stamp of legitimacy on a marriage that is performed in a church, but can neither forbid nor mandate the performance of the marriage ceremony. I think fears in this regard are unfounded, at least as long as we hold our government to it's proper role in general.

I understand the argument that gay marriage is a degeneration of societal values that have stood for thousands of years. But if we have gotten to the point where we look to secular government to keep the boundaries of our cultural values safe from change or degeneration, we have already given up the fight. That is not what government is for, it's what we as citizens, as humans, as members of a community are charged with doing. I challenge you to try to do it ourselves. Talk with each other. Learn what drives those with whom you disagree. Do not give up your beliefs, but challenge them, question them and then prove them to yourself in the real world. Just please do it yourself without bringing in the state. We have more than enough government already.



  1. I don't know why I was nervous to read this post. I don't often like to discuss politics, with you or anyone, because it's, you know, sticky. I have good friends whose politics I don't really agree with, at all. I don't even agree 100% with my husband about everything. It can be really awkward finding out that you disagree with someone you really admire about some of the more hot-button issues. But I'm kinda kicking myself that I even, just a tiny bit, thought that you might be in favor of Amendment One. You're Jeffrey. I am D for Dumb.

    1. If I ever get to the point where everyone but the dumb people can predict where I'll stand on all the issues of the day, I'm gonna crawl in a hole and die ;-) To me, the important thing isn't the "yes" or "no", it's the way a person arrives there.

  2. This is the only reasonable argument I have read against the ammendment. Like the poster above, I was afraid to read it, but for the exact opposite reason- I was afraid it would contain a bunch of uber-liberal scare tactics. I've had you pegged wrong, Mr. Jeffrey. It is a well thought out argument and I respect that.