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Apr 02, 2012


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"Domestic partnerships or civil unions, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, would not be valid or recognized here."

Of course, they aren't recognized now under the current law either. So the argument must really be "oppose this Amendment so we can try to get these things in the future".

Also lost in the debate over this Amendment is the necessity of such a thing to protect against judicial action that would require the State to recognize same-sex marriage and/or civil unions established in other states.

After a while, people begin to catch on to how liberals operate. This is a fine example. If you can't win through the front door, distort the truth, shift the focus, and sneak in the back.

The theme that passing this will create a parade of horrors when in fact NOTHING CHANGES but the strength of the law is dishonest.

This Amendment really is straight forward without all of the tricks: If you believe that marriage should only be between one man and one woman and that there should be no state created equivalency of that union for people other than one man and one woman, and/or you don't think the state should recognize such unions establish in other states, then vote for it. If you believe in same-sex marriage or domestic civil unions, then vote against it.


But Sam, it's just an awful, bad amendment no matter what you believe, and thus, opposing it is just a good thing. I read it.


More deliberate dishonesty from Spag.

First, as most 5th graders know, this state constitutional amendment would do nothing to stop federal courts.

Second, introducing undefined terms into the constitution is quite a bit of a change, and obviously opens the door for a lot of lawerly excursions into uncharted waters.

The truth is -- as Russell Robsinson wrote in the Char-O last week -- whether you're for OR against gay marriage, you should vote this badly written amendment down.

Fun fact: There actually was a more narrowly written amendment that ONLY mentioned marriage filed in the legislature last year, but Skip Stam and Tom Tillis left it to die in committee while they rammed this horribly drafted piece of law through the Rules Committee without allowing any changes.

Take a look at House Bill 777 (the one that died in committee) and Senate Bill 514 (the one on the ballot now).

House Bill 777 said: "Marriage is the union of one man and one woman at one time. No other relationship shall be recognized as a valid marriage by the State."

Senate Bill 514 says: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State."

All of Skip Stam's whining about false unintended consequences are nothing but crocodile tears. He and everyone else watching the "specical" session last September knew he had a narrower bill already sitting in committee, but he substituted this bad language instead.

Ed Cone

Sam, do you plan to vote in favor of the amendment?


Being for this amendment goes under the heading "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".


"First, as most 5th graders know, this state constitutional amendment would do nothing to stop federal courts. "

And neither would NOT passing the Amendment. True or false ?

Is there a federal court action pending ?

Here is the bob and weave: First argue that we don't need the Amendment because it isn't likely that our courts would overturn the current statute which already bans same-sex marriage and doesn't allow "domestic legal unions", so those who argue that an Amendment is needed to keep the courts restrained are out of line.

But then when someone argues that all the Amendment really does is strengthen the status quo, you argue that the courts suddenly will get involved.

If we do nothing, conservatives argue the courts will eventually get involved. If we do something, liberals argue that the courts will eventually get involved.

Where is the "deliberate dishonesty" ?

Ed, I will probably vote for the Amendment. Although I know quite a few same-sex couples that are stable and who are good parents, I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and despite all of the noise about divorce, not having children, etc., society is still better off leaving that institution intact as the only legally recognized union. Once you make one exception, there is no rational basis for making any other exceptions. In fact, there is a stronger tradition of polygamy than same-sex marriage and polygamy is actually a crime.

I would prefer that this not be done by Amendment, but the activist courts have forced this response. This Amendment does not criminalize same-sex marriage or "domestic unions"; it simply refuses to give them legal recognition.

On the other hand, the state could get out of the marriage business altogether, but that is a different debate.


"there is no rational basis for making any other exceptions."

"there is no rational basis for NOT making any other exceptions."


"Although I know quite a few same-sex couples that are stable and who are good parents, I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and despite all of the noise about divorce, not having children, etc., society is still better off leaving that institution intact as the only legally recognized union." - Spag

Spag - You have very clearly stated a position of support for the amendment. But, I still don't understand how you arrive at this position. Can you explain further? How do you move from recognizing stable and good parents to believing those people should be forbidden to marry?

Ed Cone

Same-sex couples are a reality. They raise families. Some even get married in churches.

But they lack the dignity and protection of legal recognition. I think they deserve that recognition.

I also think some form of recognition is inevitable. So does Skip Stam, although he's willing to pass an amendment and try to forestall the change for a generation or so.

This issue does not break down easily along simple liberal/conservative lines, as prominent voices like Olson and Orr attest.

I hope and believe this amendment can be defeated in May.


Polygamy was a reality, too. In fact one with a marriage tradition that goes back way beyond same-sex marriage. They also raised families. But unlike same-sex marriages, it is actually a crime to have a polygamous marriage.

So are we getting down to an agreement that marriage should only be between TWO people? If so, on what basis do you make that argument/distinction in light of the history of polygamous cultures and the possible benefits of those marriages?

Jeff Thigpen's lawsuit was thrown out of court today. Interestingly enough it called for the state to get out of the marriage business except to prevent inter alia, incestuous marriages, bigamist marriages, and polygamist marriages. Why should the state remain involved in those types of marriages, but not heterosexual and homosexual marriages?

I have yet to hear a coherent and logical argument as to why society should stop at same-sex marriage under a rights analysis. I also find the policy analysis weak as it pertains to polygamy, i.e. "we should allow same-sex marriage, but three or more people shouldn't be allowed to marry as a matter of policy because...?"

So I ask you Ed, do you favor same-sex marriage or only civil unions?

Dave Ribar


A rights reason to ban polygamy is that a spouse within an existing marriage can be coerced. Suppose that wife A demands from husband B that she be allowed to add another husband C. Existing husband B has the "choice" that he can either accept A's demand or reject it, leading to a divorce and the loss of a substantial amount of "capital" that has been built up in the marriage. The threat of divorce in the existing marriage creates the potential for coercion, especially if B is dependent on A.

Bringing in an additional spouse is different from other demands that A might make, because the additional spouse also has the potential to reduce the resources and support going to B.

David Wharton

DR: you can handle those kinds of things in a pre-nup, e.g. number of permitted spouses, conditions under which spouses can be added, etc.


ANY marriage could have theoretical coercion over any number of things.

Dave Ribar


That's why I limited the discussion to existing marriages and not new marriages. There would be no capital in a new marriage.


An additional legally-sanctioned marriage partner that creates obligations for B (and obligations for A against B's existing interest) is different from most, though certainly not all, things.


what time does the rally start

Ed Cone

Slippery slope arguments are cautionary but not definitive. We should be careful, but we still walk on hills.

Which is to say I'm a lot more interested in the issue at hand than some hypothetical What Comes Next scenario. The issue at hand is of real and present importance.

Societies, cultural norms, and laws change over time. That applies to marriage and family relationships. Many of the changes in our society, as King said, bend toward justice. I think this change is one of them.

Sal: The rally is at 7PM.

Sam: I have no problem with calling same-sex civil unions marriage, but I'm most concerned with establishing that baseline of civil status, especially since, as that oft-linked post upthread points out, same-sex couples already can have their relationships solemnified in religious ceremonies.

Civil unions seem to have pretty broad support. Which is one reason I think this amendment deserves to fail, and to be viewed with great skepticism even by people who really, really think marriage must always and forever be only between a man and a woman. An amendment enshrining the latter would pass with ease; this one, which would take civil unions off the table, might be defeated.


Calling civil unions marriage and legalizing such unions as a marriage are two different things.

Are you in favor of amending N.C.G.S.51-1 to state that "a valid and sufficient marriage is created by the consent of any two people..." instead of the current "a valid and sufficient marriage is created by the consent of a male person and a female person...", and repealing 51-1.2 that invalidates marriages between persons of the same gender ?

Further you note "same-sex couples already can have their relationships solemnified in religious ceremonies.". That is true, but in North Carolina civil unions don't exist for opposite sex couples either. Should we do away with marriage altogether and just have civil unions ?

Ed Cone

I've said here more than once that I'd be fine with getting the state out of the marriage business and just recognizing civil unions, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

Changing the law to allow same-sex marriage? Still fine with it, as I hoped my previous comment made clear, but still more concerned with establishing civil unions, and thus with not making them unconstitutional.

I believe marriage is important (per Charlie Daniels, you can call home and ask my wife). I believe same-sex couples can and will consider themselves "married." I'm pretty libertarian about things that don't pick my pocket or break my leg.


Would you favor civil unions for more than two people ? Do you support repeal of the criminal law prohibiting bigamy ? If no to either, why ?

Straight Minister

Would you favor abortions after birth? The death penalty for overdue library books? People owning Howitzers? Fear! Fear! Fear!

We draw lines all the time that protect rights without allowing total chaos.

This slippery slope argument is a diversion for people who will not confront their own prejudices.

Why not gay marriage? "Because I fear something else unrelated," sayeth the bigots.

Equality. Freedom. Personal responsibility. Societal stability. All these supposedly inviolate values fall subservient to a canard for the micro-minded Spagnolas of the state.


IT's not a slippery slope argument or fear mongering at all. It is a logical one. Under what logical basis do you stop at same-sex marriage when all of the arguments being advanced also justify other forms of marriage ? Instead of calling me a "bigot" which is not the case at all, how about making a rational argument ?

Supreme Court cases are based on precedent. You cannot ignore that. The logical basis behind one set of facts can be applied to other sets of facts. Tell me how the logic does not apply here.

If government gets out completely as Ed suggests (and I may agree with in large part), on what basis should they continue to monitor/regulate other forms of marriage ?

Or you can just call me a bigot which is the usual kind of name calling that occurs when liberals don't have a response to an argument.

Ed Cone

I just don't see government getting out of the marriage biz anytime soon, so even though idea might suit me fine, it seems like a tangential argument at the moment.

I think the benefits of recognizing same-sex unions substantially outweigh the risks, including the sudden ex nihilo animation of the legalized bigamy movement.

sean coon

"Supreme Court cases are based on precedent. You cannot ignore that. The logical basis behind one set of facts can be applied to other sets of facts. Tell me how the logic does not apply here."

you're right, spag. two people, who happen to be of the opposite sex, can be married legally. precedent would say that two people should also be allowed to marry, even though they're of the same sex.

the illogical, addition to this line of legal reasoning would be to introduce more than two parties into the conversation. but continue on...


Maybe it was allowing marriage in the first place that started us on this slippery road toward bigamy, polygamy, and all the rest.


Analogies are by definition neither exact nor completely unrelated. Their usefulness is in the strength of their similarity to what they are being compared to. And although opinions may honestly differ on that, only a fool or someone very insecure in their beliefs would see a harmonious legal analogy between opposite-sex vs same-sex marriage on one hand, but complete irrelevance between opposite sex monogamous vs polygamous marriage on the other. But it's so much easier to employ smirky gang-ridicule than intellectually honest recognition in disagreement, so continue on...it seems to soothe you.


cheri, i don't know what you're blathering on about with "gang ridicule." unlike yourself, most people don't email others to rejoice over comment threads or to ask them to partake in the madness. sometimes it just happens to work out that people have the same perspective on an issue.

so f you feel that a polygamous and gay marriage comparison -- both legally and morally -- is more comparable, then don't let me stop you from making it clear as to why you feel the same way as spag. you have the floor, as it were (though you might want to put down the pom-poms while expressing your own opinion).


Notice how nobody answered any of my questions. Logic must be hard.

Sean, you are completely wrong about current precedent regarding marriage. The Court has never held that everybody has the fundamental right to marry. If it were so, then laws against bigamy/polygamy would be overturned now. Rather the Court held that marriage- understood to be a union of ONE man and ONE woman - was a fundamental right. Not just any "two people" as you claim. Not two men, not two men and one woman, not three women and one man - just one man and one woman.

If you actually read the cases and understand why the Court found it to be a fundamental right, you will see why your argument fails. The decision in Loving is based on a "deeply rooted tradition". As I mentioned before, there is no "deeply rooted tradition" of same-sex marriage. In fact, there is a greater tradition of polygamy than same sex marriage. The equal protection argument fails because nobody is prohibited from marrying someone from the opposite sex, including homosexuals. That fact that they wouldn't want to is not legally significant. Nobody is forced to marry and even heterosexuals have limitations on who they can marry despite what/who they may want.

You want to draw a line in the sand that ends at same-sex marriage, but can't explain why the line should end there. The Court would draw the line at one man and one woman because that is the only "deeply rooted tradition" of marriage. Once you dispense with that, there is no reason not to extend marital rights to anyone who wants to get married, even those who wish to marry multiple people.

If someone can explain why that isn't the case, I'm still waiting. "Just because" is not a respectable argument.

I am not anti-gay, but regardless, this is not about personal feelings towards gay people. This is not a "bigoted" argument or analysis. it is an intellectual inquiry about law and policy.

Ed, you never really answered the question- why not polygamy? What is your own view on that?


yes, the current definition of marriage is between a man and a women (thanks for making that clear). too bad i don't give a rats ass about The Court's definition of "Loving". such rumination is succinct evidence of why the government shouldn't be in the marriage business in the first place.

that said, this isn't about The Court; this is about our state lawmakers attempting to alter our state's constitution in a manner that is completely fucked up on numerous levels.

so yeah, i morally believe that gay people should have the same right to marry as us heterosexuals. quite honestly, i don't care what polygamists do either, but guess what? that's neither here nor there as the current state constitution is crystal clear about how NC views marriage (don't worry, i won't ask you to put your neck on the line and reveal what you feel marriage should be). this proposed amendment would not only ban same-sex marriage, but muck up civil unions, whether same sex or heterosexual. so if you want to have a logical, "intellectual" argument about this issue -- this one, here in north carolina with amendment 1 -- why in the world would you not speak to those particulars and instead focus on polygamy?

you skip over the details of amendment 1 and are willing to vote yes to support this garbage legislation, while paying ridiculous attention to definitions of federal law and the potential of mass orgies becoming legal marriages?

it makes no sense, really.


The anger Seanie Drama works himself into at people for the mere expression or defense of opinions at odds with his own but devoid of his own trademark outrage and shrill theatrics never fails to impress. Now it’s too the point of mocking an argument for its own intelligence. “Ridiculous!” Harumph! The human exclamation point.

Ed Cone

Sam, I think you asked about bigamy, not polygamy, but neither factors into my views on this issue, which I believe stands on its own merits. My belief in those merits is not undermined by fear of legalizing those other behaviors, and so I cannot say I've spent much time thinking about them.

But, since you asked....

Polygamy -- one of the most traditional forms of marriage, and quite popular in the Bible -- seems to involve a significant level of coercion and so does not seem to be a relationship between consenting adults. This is an excellent example of society and its long-accepted rules on marriage changing over time, and I thank you for bringing it up.

Bigamy as it is generally understood in our culture involves deception, i.e., a spouse pretending he or she is not already married, so again both consent and legality seem far-fetched to me. If it does not involve deception, see polygamy, above.


Coercion? You base that on what? I add bigamy only because you can't have polygamy without it.

Would not the opposition to same-sex marriage be evidence that society has not changed its view on what marriage is ? Or at the least, not enough ? Do changes in societal views create Constitutional rights where there were none before ?


CP, Sean's argument is "i don't give a rats ass. Just because".

In other words, the law should be whatever I want it to be just because that's what I want. Liberalism in a nutshell.

Andrew Brod

No, it's not liberalism in a nutshell. We're all just drawing arbitrary lines in the sand. The conservative line is here and the liberal/libertarian line is over here. If this thread has demonstrated anything, it's that neither viewpoint is any more grounded in pure logic than the other.

The conservative argument has been that if we extend the definition of marriage (or civil unions, or whatever--that distinction is a separate discussion) to same-sex couples, there's no logical reason not to extend it to polygamy. Well, that might be right. The primary reason not to tolerate polygamy is cultural, not logical. But the flipside of that argument is that there's no logical reason not to extend the definition to same-sex couples.

This is about culture and how it's evolving and changing. Or not. But as Skip Stam noted, even if this amendment passes this time, it will be reversed in a generation. When that happens, it won't be logical or illogical. It'll be an expression of evolving values.

So we'll vote according to our values, and we'll see which side wins. And rather than being the end of the story, it'll be another step in an evolution.


"The conservative line is here and the liberal/libertarian line is over here. If this thread has demonstrated anything, it's that neither viewpoint is any more grounded in pure logic than the other."

Actually what you call the "conservative line" is actually grounded in a nearly universal, deeply rooted tradition, which was at the heart of the Loving decision. I'm still trying to discern where the liberal line is and why.

Without such a line, I'm skeptical of the wisdom of altering the status quo, and I'm usually pretty libertarian about such things.

Andrew Brod

I agree that it's grounded in tradition. That's a value. It's not logic.

Values change over time, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly.


"Values change over time, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly."

But they're distorted for world view rationalization all the time, particularly by people whose agenda advancements depend on such, regardless of the fact that said distortion removes the value from what wwas formerly a value.

Ed Cone

Traditional marriage included, recently and in our own mainstream culture, a serious lack of rights for women.

Looking back further, marriage traditions include many things we would not accept today.

Tradition alone is just not a convincing argument here.

Meanwhile, and most important, legal recognition of same-sex unions makes sense on its own merits.


"I agree that it's grounded in tradition. That's a value. It's not logic."

So the Loving case- so often cited by those who advocate same-sex marriage- is not logical ?

You posited that the conservatives did not have a logical argument. However, what is not logical about relying on Court precedent ?

"Tradition alone is just not a convincing argument here." Okay, so what is your argument ?

"Traditional marriage included, recently and in our own mainstream culture, a serious lack of rights for women." So are you claiming that same-sex marriages are actually more beneficial than traditional marriage because they don't carry the risks for women that you claim ? If the "lack of rights" that you cite is no longer an issue, how is that an argument for your position and against the status quo ?

"Just because" is not a convincing argument, either.

Andrew Brod

"Just because" may not be convincing to you, but it's what's going on.

FWIW, I never said that any particular court decision wasn't logical. But even there, when you get to the level of the Supreme Court, it's not primarily about "calling balls and strikes," in Samuel Alito's (or was it John Roberts'?) words, because what the high court often does is redefine the strike zone. How they do that is complex, involving lots of factors including both precedent and culture. There's a lot of research that shows how important the latter is.

But that's a sidebar. What's relevant here is a proposed constitutional amendment, to be voted on by the people. Many of them care about tradition; that's a value. Many of them want to change this particular tradition; that's a value as well.


"Many of them want to change this particular tradition; that's a value as well."

Hmmm.....the "progressive" Mau Maus would do well to remember this old Basuto saying:

"If a man does away with his traditional way of living and throws away his good customs, he had better first make certain that he has something of value to replace them."

I have yet to hear a compelling argument for same sex marriage/civil unions that offer something of value for the society which is asked to accept the change.


That is a fair assessment, Andrew. At least you are being honest about it.


cheri, it's pretty hilarious that you read anger into everything i write. i expressed my position and found it weird that sam focused on the argument of a slippery slide to polygamy, rather than tackle the legal aspects of this proposed amendment. that's an example of a human exclamation point? sorry that my tone upsets you so much. truly.

sam, my personal feeling on the matter is live and let live (with the footnote of "as long as everyone is safe"). i'm not disagreeing at all that a ton of americans have a certain moral take on this issue that conflicts with my own, including my take on "Loving," as i find it to be the ultimate form of a God complex to have the court make a decision along those lines.

if you want to bloat the conversation to include polygamy and other forms of cohabitation, i just don't see a groundswell of consenting adults (or children for that matter) pressing for its legalization in the streets, so i'm not sure i understand the relevance. check that, i understand your down-the-line legal concerns, but that's not my concern, and we can agree to disagree along those lines.


"I have yet to hear a compelling argument for same sex marriage/civil unions that offer something of value for the society which is asked to accept the change." - Bubba

"...I know quite a few same-sex couples that are stable and who are good parents..." - Spag

Do you see no value to society in allowing the people Spag describes to marry? How about letting the children if these "good parents" see their parents in happy marriages?

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