The Washington Post is reporting that President Obama had no plans to bring up the North Carolina marriage amendment voters will vote on next month when he spoke in the state today. This is not surprising since he already said he opposes the amendment and probably gains little by trying to flatter the sensibilities of young voters (by talking about gay marriage) rather than emphasizing a pocket book issue (student loans, his intended topic) for them.
The Post story also relays some of the ludicrous claims that the North Carolina amendment would have unintended effects on all unmarried couples. A group of law professors at Campbell University have very effectively refuted such claims in a carefully-documented white paper. I’ve written about similar claims made against other amendments a few years ago in the Florida Coastal Law Review. It’s worth emphasizing that a majority of state marriage amendments also prohibit legal statuses that are just marriage by another name so what North Carolina is doing is hardly unprecedented. Some of these amendments have been on the books for eight years with none of the outcomes North Carolina gay-marriage advocates have predicted. On the other hand, to understand why the proposed amendment’s drafters felt it necessary to include a prohibition of civil unions, one need only remember that a Ninth Circuit panel cited the fact that California had a marriage amendment and a civil-union statute simultaneously as a reason for invalidating California’s Proposition 8 just months ago.
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