Tag Archives: amendment one

Tolerance and Prosperity

Fred Wilson has a post titled Tolerance and Prosperity on his AVC blog that directly addresses one of the concerns with Amendment One here in North Carolina – the impact it might have on the state's economy:

I thought of my friend Bob Young's blog post about North Carolina's Amendment One, which seeks to ban same sex marriages…

Bob's argument is as much an economic one as a social one. Bob says:

This proposed amendment to our state constitution is specifically telling them we don’t want their friends and fellow Americans to come here.   We need these talented, intelligent young Americans to come to North Carolina to help our technology industries succeed, but they have choices.   They can go to states with mottos like “Live Free or Die” instead of states that attempt to tell them how to live their lives, such as this Amendment One does.  And trust me, these bright young Americans can and will chose to join my competitors in Seattle, or San Jose, or New York. 

North Carolina has enjoyed a vibrant tech/startup economy and Bob's Red Hat and Lulu.com are two of its best known successes.

The ultimate impact of Amendment One's passage is yet to be known, and probably won't be known for years to come. It will take time for the courts to sort things out after the inevitable lawsuits are filed, for our communities to determine exactly how many of their members have moved to greener pastures, and for companies in our increasingly complex industries to assess the impact on their ability to recruit a talented workforce. 

Earlier in his post Fred referenced a discussion he and the partners at his firm had just had with economist Paul Romer, who referenced the impact William Penn's policy on religious liberty had on Pennsyvlania and the reaction of its neighboring colonies:

William Penn was a Quaker and when King Charles II gave him a large piece of his land holdings in America, Penn created the colony of Pennsylvania and grounded it in the notions of tolerance and religious freedom. Instead of limiting Pennsylvania to Quakers, they welcomed all comers. And the result was that Philadelphia became the fastest growing city in America with a vibrant economy and lifestyle.

The neighboring colonies, which were initially centered around a single religion, reacted to Pennsylvania's and Philadelphia's economic success by opening up their cultural norms and becoming more tolerant as well.

It has been pointed out that until the passage of Amendment One North Carolina was the exception in the Southeast. Now, in a reversal of William Penn's approach, North Carolina has decided to join the less tolerant crowd and in the process has given away a competitive advantage it had on its regional economic competition. That's not likely to lead to greater prosperity for North Carolinians, and that's just more salt in the wound that the amendment inflicts on its citizens.

Of course that's the opinion of one person who was among a significant minority of the voters yesterday (only 39% voted against the amendment). The voters of NC have spoken, and now all of us will have to live with the consequences, whatever those might be. 

How Will Amendment One Affect Primary Voting?

If you live in North Carolina and aren't living in utter seclusion, you're aware that the "Marriage Amendment" is on the ballot in today's primary. Normally a primary held after the presidential nominees have alreay been determined would draw only the hard core party faithful, but because of the amendment there's been an extraordinary amount of attention paid to this year's primary and it will be interesting to see how that affects the results.

Some questions to ponder:

  • In a state where 25% of the voters are independent how many of those unaffiliated voters will be drawn to the primaries because of the amendment?
  • Democrats make up 43%, and Republicans 31%, of registered voters. If independents decide to participate more heavily in the Republican primaries will they affect the outcome of some close races for NC Senate/House, city councils, county commissions, etc.?  
  • With either the Democratic or Republican primaries will the participation of independents skew the votes towards more centrist candidates?
  • If the independents participate more heavily in the Republican primary they will likely have a greater impact since there's a smaller pool of Republican voters. Assuming the independents will lean more towards the center will their participation hurt the more conservative candidates? If so, will the conservative Republicans' strategy of putting the Amendment on the primary ballot end up being viewed as a mistake in hindsight, even if it passes?

The 2008 primary was dramatic on the Democratic ticket because the presidential nomination was still up in the air at the time, but this year's primaries are dramatic all the way around due to the amendment. The debate about the direct consequences of the amendment has been well documented, but there hasn't been much exploration of the potential collateral damage the amendment might incur politically, and it will be fascinating to see how it shakes out.

Alliance Defense Fund Still Around

If you thought the folks at the Alliance Defense Fund took their ball and went home after taking the Forsyth County Commissioners' prayer case and running with it all the way to the US Supreme Court and losing, you'd be wrong. They've reappeared as an influencer of the controversial NC Amendment One on tomorrow's primary ballots. From the Fayetteville Observer:

The official explanation issued by the state Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission on next month's measure, written to help voters understand it, acknowledges the "debate among legal experts" over the possible effects. It concludes: "The courts will ultimately make those decisions."

Stam, the Raleigh lawmaker, said he wanted a more narrowly worded amendment but was "overruled" by "national experts" he identified as the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal advocacy group.

Stam says the state needs the amendment to protect marriage from efforts to de-legitimize it. If unmarried straight couples want the benefits of marriage, he said, they should get married. 

A Different Look at Amendment One

Greensboro blogger David Wharton, a Catholic, has decided to defy his bishop's endorsement of Amendment One for a very specific reason – he feels that endorsing the amendment is a violation of the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae:

After due consideration, I've come to the conclusion that Bishop Jugis is wrong to support the amendment.

The Church holds that marriage is a sacramental, lifelong union between one man and one woman, founded in the love between the partners and for the procreation of children; however, it blesses sacramental marriages between infertile and post-fertile opposite sex couples. Thus its position is prima facie contradictory, but let that lie for now.

Even granting the Church's definition of marriage, I believe Bishop Jugis's endorsement of Amendment One violates the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae. Here are some excerpts from that document, with the most relevant language highlighted by me. Pardon the length.

Despite the length of the post it's worth reading.