Regarding Amendment 1 in North Carolina

I consider North Carolina home.

My Opa lives in the same house I have been going to for holidays and summer breaks my whole life.

My other grandparents are buried in a small town’s small church graveyard alongside several generations on my dad’s side.

I went to college and grad school in North Carolina. It’s where my immediate family is, as well as numerous friends. So I care what happens there beyond just the normal interest in the affairs of our nation.

And so, for all my Christian friends back home, my two cents:

You don’t have to vote for Amendment 1, even if you don’t think God approves of homosexual behavior.

As Christians, we have to be able to differentiate between different spheres within which we live. As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 5: What have I to do with judging outsiders? Those who are outside God judges. But do we not judge those who are inside the church?

We have a responsibility to guard the morality of the church in a way that God has not given us responsibility to guard the morality of the entire world.

Perhaps as importantly, however, we have the challenge of figuring out how to implement our dual calling to (1) love our neighbor as ourselves / do unto others what we would have done for us and (2) be dutiful Christian citizens in a pluralistic society.

When we hold positions for reasons that are clearly and fundamentally religious positions, we must take extra care not to impose these on our non-Christian neighbors–if, in fact, we would love them with our religious convictions in the same way we would have them love us with theirs.

In other words: if you don’t want the convictions of your Muslim neighbor to be forced on your through the laws of the state, you should not force your Christian convictions on your neighbor through that mechanism.

In this case, the issues tied to the amendment as I understand it (and I may be wrong here) extend far beyond what we dealt with in Prop 8 in California. Not only does this amendment forbid marriage, it forbids the state’s acknowledging of any other sort of domestic partnership:

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.

This would seem to suggest that people will stand to lose medical coverage, hospital visitation rights, rights of inheritance and the like that could be assured through domestic partnership laws if this amendment were not in place.

In other words: this is not merely about a definition of marriage, but about foundational civil liberties.

If my understanding of the amendment is correct, I would suggest that Christians not only have the freedom to stand against it, but are conscience-bound to vote against it. This is about being truly treated as equal under the law, something we should be at the forefront of making sure is the case for everyone–not just people like us.

When Jesus was walking around, doing his thing in Galilee, the “opposite” of being a faithful member of God’s family was, without a doubt, being a Roman military officer. Not only an idol-worshiping pagan, but an agent of the force of arms that kept God’s people subjugated on the land God had promised them for their own.

And yet, the kind of ministry Jesus embodied, the kind of word he proclaimed, was such that a Roman centurion came up, asking for one of Jesus’ authoritative words on his slave’s behalf: “Please, save him… only say the word and he will be healed.”

Is this how those outside the church see us? Is this how we extend ourselves on their behalf?

The challenge for us when we feel that the “outsider” and “opposition to God’s people” is bearing down is to be those who so love our neighbor that even the consummate “other” would see us as an ally, ready to stand together against the enslaving powers that bind us all.

Can we, even if we disagree, be people of self-giving love, who will do for our homosexual neighbors what we would have done for our straight selves?

North Carolinian Christians, you are free to vote against Amendment 1 and in this vote to love your neighbor as yourself.

56 thoughts on “Regarding Amendment 1 in North Carolina”

    1. As I see it, this is not a bible issue, but a liberties issue. We are all afforded liberty through the US Constitution. The definition of liberty by Webster is:the quality or state of being free; the positive enjoyment of various SOCIAL, political or economic rights and priviledges; the power of choice.
      So it will probably end up in the Supreme Court. In the meantime, NC needs to define cvil unions in a way that gives same-sex couples the EXACT liberties in their union as afforded couples in marriage.

  1. Daniel, your fears re: health benefits and hospital visitations are ill founded. The language regarding “private contractual agreements” and precedent set by courts like the Ohio Supreme Court guard against such actions.

    1. The Ohio Supreme Court holds no sway in NC. And I can say from meetings with who we farm out HR too, there is a very real possibility that health benefits will be affected.

  2. Thank you Matt. I voted against it. Some of my brothers and sisters in Christ voted against it. The “religious right” says we must not be such good Christians. :-) That’s okay. You don’t enter the Kingdom based on how you vote, do you? We could all use everyone’s prayers.

  3. Daniel,

    as you can imagine, the rhetoric here in NC has been pretty heavy on this one. I’ve been saying that I think quite a bit of the rhetoric against the amendment has been quite overblown. People say that if the amendment doesn’t pass, then really nothing will change, but it strikes me that the converse is true as well. The state right now does not recognize gay marriage, and if the amendment passes that will continue in pretty much exactly the same way.

    Some of the points you raise, though, have convinced me to not vote in favor of it. Both my gay friends and my liberal friends are quite convinced that a vote FOR the amendment is a statement against gay people. Even though I might dispute their claim, I have to recognize that their perception of me will be influenced by what I have to say on this issue. Even though I don’t believe homosexuality is itself a good, or good for society, I am certainly not against people who are gay. So I’ve simply decided I won’t vote on the amendment.

    My fervent hope is that no matter what the outcome of the vote, Christians in North Carolina will extend extra love to their gay neighbors.

  4. 1. All state precedents in absence of federal law have what is called persuasive authority, which all courts look to and consider when adjudicting new legislation. The proposed North Carolina law is nearly identical to Ohio law.

    2. Regardless of what anyone has “heard”, the private contract language in the proposed amendment is there for a reason–to exempt wills, trusts and agreements among same sex partners regarding health care, benefits, etc. BTW, there is not one case on record where a same sex couple has ever been denied these “rights” in any state that has passed a marriage amendment.

    3. This is not necessarily about religion. Does anyone really believe that 52% of Californians who supported Prop 8 are evangelicals? That’s silly on its face.

    4. All votes are based in morality. It is an inescapable fact. If you vote for politicians vowing to raise taxes on the wealthy it is because you believe (1) the wealthy should pay for government programs that you believe will help the poor or (2) the wealthy became rich via means that are unjust. Why should the definition of marriage be an exception to this fact? And to be clear, even liberal theologian Jurgen Moltmann belives marriage should be defined as one man and one woman. It is not a “right wing crusade.”

    5. Please look to Canada and Europe to see what comes next. It isn’t pretty.

    6. The push by liberal Christians has not produced this great missional revival among homosexuals.

    7. You can love someone while disagreeing with them (have any of you ever been married?). I pastor an inner city church filled with addicts, college students, the homeless, homosexuals, even transgender prostitutes. They know where I stand and still come to talk with me because they know I care for them, will listen to them, feed the, help them in any way I can, etc.

    1. Can you give them money when they don’t have insurance or convince a homophobic nurse/doctor to let them in to see their dying loved one?

    2. 1. persuasive authority is considered in the same sense anything entered into the court record is considered. It binds nothing
      2., which was the pretext to your point # 1
      3. AMendment One is much more restrictive than Proposition 8. It bans civil unions, which Prop does not, just for starters
      4. I think that any Church that would sanctifies a gay marriage has a really skewed interpretation of the bible. That being said, the state doesn’t sanctify anything. A legal marriage or civil union is really just granting rights for a commited relationship that already exists.
      5. We must not of been to the same places in Canada and Europe.
      6. Let’s not be naive about how most homosexuals are spoken to by people of ‘faith’
      7. Of course you can love someone and disagree with them. But its better when you can disagree with them while their kids have health insurance, and they have basic rights

      1. Ben,


        With all due respect, none of your points make any sense. Again, the line regarding private contracts addresses health insurance, hospital visits, etc. And, according to federal and state consitutions, what you list as basic rights are not rights in any legal sense but they are still protected under the North Carolina Amendment. Even the state Family Policy Council admits that. Please don’t misrepesent what is really going on. If you want to disregard the teachings of Scripture and the opinion of 62% of Americans according the most extensive poll, so be it. Just have the guts to state that and don’t twist the views of others. Thanks.

        1. I don’t think you read the link I posted. It dealt specifically with health benefits i.e health insurance, which was what you were talking about. It was the first or second thing that popped up when I google searched for some examples- not hard to find. Also, I didn’t list any basic rights, I just wrote the term- so I really don’t know what rights you’re specifically referring to. The Family Policy Council has been saying a lot of things they don’t really have the expertise to comment on, and I don’t think much of them generally.

          And I don’t rely much on polls for morality. Mostly MMLJ.

          1. That last bit was a bit snarky, sorry. But I didn’t say I was speaking for anyone but myself so “Just have the guts to state that and don’t twist the views of others. Thanks.” Seems a bit unwarranted.

    3. I live in Canada. There is gay marriage here, but somehow, society hasn’t collapsed and churchgoers haven’t been rounded up and thrown in jail. Life goes on as normal. Not sure where all the scare-mongering comes from.

  5. Arguments about marriage really needn’t be fundamentally religious in nature, but the problem is that the modern world operates with a split between nature and grace (and the concomitants of reason and faith) that started in the 14th century and ran through the Reformation and indeed made modernity what it is. Marriage is something (as Augustine and Luther argued) that is not particularly Christian, but common to all societies. The problem is, most people, and I imagine especially in heavily evangelical/fundamentalist North Carolina, operate with those splits, and thus I suspect the pro-amendment side has made appeals to religious authorities (i.e., Scripture) that are particular instead of nature and reason which are universal, while the anti-amendment folks scream (I suspect) about separation of Church and State.

    The other difficulty (and I feel this particularly as a Catholic) is that gay rights (like so-called ‘reproductive rights’) smother religious liberty and free association and free speech. (And that’s pretty much most of the First Amendment.) Some Christians and Christian bodies don’t notice and don’t care, however, because they’re on board with those so-called rights and don’t get crushed by the pelvic left’s steamroller.

    The question for me concerns whether we can come to a sort of detente, but I don’t think we can, because gay rights are being framed in terms of civil rights, and there’s no compromise on issues of rights. They’re absolute.

    1. How do “gay rights (like so-called ‘reproductive rights’) smother religious liberty and free association and free speech”?

    2. The public debate around amendment one in NC has largely been about “what the Bible says about homosexuality.” Aside from the fact that the campaign “for” is a thinly veiled homophobic agenda to discriminate against a “minority” of folks, the main arguments are “biblically based.” Problem is, the arguments on both sides are so naive they are silly. I wonder, are people really this naive? Liberals dismiss what the Bible says as contradictory and arbitrary or simply “wrong.” Conservatives seize a hand full of verses with little thought as to any background or social context. It proves the biblical literacy here in NC (and I suspect elsewhere) is pretty low. My guess is we’re reading collectively at the grade level of kindergarteners. That’s just a SWAG since I have a first grader who makes more complex hermeneutical judgments.

    3. “gay rights (like so-called ‘reproductive rights’) smother religious liberty and free association and free speech. (And that’s pretty much most of the First Amendment.) Some Christians and Christian bodies don’t notice and don’t care, however, because they’re on board with those so-called rights and don’t get crushed by the pelvic left’s steamroller.”

      I don’t understand your reference to “the pelvic left’s steamroller,” but I do understand what you’re trying to say with the first portion of the comment I’ve quoted above, and it is balderdash and bunkum, pure and simple.

      Awarding gay people equal rights in no way smothers “religious liberty and free association and free speech”. If you don’t like gay people you remain free to say as much. You remain free to cling to the so-called “clobber passages” in privately or not-so-privately condemning them for what you may see as “sinful” behavior. You remain free to congregate and associate with other people who share your views. For proof of this, simply look up cases involving the free speech and free assembly rights of the KKK and neo-Nazis.

      What you are NOT free to do, and what the First Amendment in no way guarantees, promotes or encourges, is to exercise political and legislative power in order to deny a group of people with a different sexual orientation the same rights enjoyed by others without showing that such a law is rationally related to a legitimate government interest. There is no “legitimate government interest” here. There may be a “legitimate religious interest” to some, but those two “interests” are not in any way the same thing, nor should they be.

      This may be a subtle, difficult distinction for you to draw. But it is a real, quantifiable distinction supported by firm legal precedent. Do you want to live in a democracy, or in a theocracy?

  6. The truth is that Paul’s admonition to avoid judging outsiders in 1 Corinthians has little to do with this society culturally speaking. For one thing, we are not a strict pluralistic society and the notion of secular or a neutral public square (especially in a place like North Carolina) of outsiders is simply a well-conceived myth. Almost our entire basis of law and freedom in this country is based on Christian concerns. Paul didn’t have a problem obeying Jewish law among the Jews so I can hardly imagine he’d have a problem doing the same with a nation that still retains a Christian heritage of some worth.

    The society originally envisioned and still generally built-in to the warp and woof of American jurisprudence is overwhelmingly Judeo-Christian and so it’s a bit of fast and loose to pretend that we must bow to ever wind of cultural diversity simply because people think their rights are being trampled upon in our larger society. Furthermore, the contract language provided in the law does most certainly allow companies to make the desired exceptions regarding benefits as they already have been doing in business for some time now.

    As usual, left-leaning commentary meant to establish an agenda foreign to Christian concerns on this runs well behind what’s actually taking place in the real world.

    1. “the notion of secular or a neutral public square (especially in a place like North Carolina) of outsiders is simply a well-conceived myth. Almost our entire basis of law and freedom in this country is based on Christian concerns.”

      Mr. Johnson, the founding fathers and several respected Supreme Court Justices want a word (or several) with you. To wit:

      “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” – Jefferson

      “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” – Jefferson’s “Bill for Religious Freedom”

      “Our sister states of Pennsylvania and New York, however, have long subsisted without any establishment at all. The experiment was new and doubtful when they made it. It has answered beyond conception. They flourish infinitely.” – Jefferson, “Notes on the State of Virginia”

      “All sects here, and we have a great variety, have experienced my good will in assisting them with subscriptions for building their new places of worship; and, as I never opposed any of their doctrines, I hope to go out of the world in peace with them all.” – Franklin

      “When a Religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its Professors are obliged to call for help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.” – Franklin

      “”I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.” – Franklin

      “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.” – Adams

      “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian religion.” – Adams

      “….I beg you be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.” – Washington

      “If they be good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa, or Europe; they may be Mohammedans [Muslims], Jews, or Christians of any sect, or they may be Atheists.” – Washington

      “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” – Justice Black

      “[The First Amendment] requires the state to be a neutral in its relations with groups of believers and non-believers.” – Justice Black

      “The First Amendment’s purpose was to create a complete and permanent separation of the spheres of religious activity and civil authority by comprehensively forbidding every form of public aid or support for religion.” – Justice Clark

      “Civil government cannot let any group ride roughshod over others simply because their consciences tell them to do so.” – Justice Jackson

      “The government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion.” – Justice Stevens

      Are these the words of men who who sure and secure in the notion of America as a “Judeo-Christian” nation first and foremost? Had I not added their names to these quotations would you have written their words off as “left-leaning commentary”?

      Clearly some early founders and some jurists have emphasized the importance to America of “Judeo-Christian” beliefs. What I take issue with, and what your opinion in no way supports, is the notion that “Almost our entire basis of law and freedom in this country is based on Christian concerns.” This is demonstrably false.

      1. LOL. I usually run into people proof-texting the early Fathers and the Scriptures. It’s rich when somebody tries it with the Founding Fathers.

        I don’t have much interest in rebutting this sort of shotgun approach except to say that for every ten quotes you provide I can give a thousand and for a thousand years back not just the revolutionary period. Such Enlightenment figures and their opinions provide only a sampling of what’s available historically and a bit of a reminder needs to be provided for those who would pretend all we need in looking at such quotes is one side of this argument. It was not Jefferson and Franklin who built this nation and decided its overwhelmingly Christian identity but the people themselves. I would encourage a closer and richer read of Western Civilization than the pauper’s version you provide with such quotes. Saying Western Civilization isn’t wrapped up with the Christian faith is like saying the Chinese have never heard of Buddhism.

        1. Way to move those goalposts, Mr. Johnson. You’ve gone, somehow, from “this country” to “Western Civilization” over the course of one post.

          You “encourage a closer and richer read of Western Civilization than the pauper’s version” I provided (let’s ignore that I wasn’t providing this), then beg off giving any facts/examples/argument at all in support of your own claim because….why, exactly? You don’t “have much interest”?

          I’d have genuine respect for you had you come back with reasoned opinions and/or statements with some basis in fact, even (especially) if I didn’t agree. But dismissively and ambiguously referring to “the people themselves” as proof of your assertions is the definition of “the pauper’s version” as you put it. I’ll take sourced and verifiable quotes over vague assertions any day.

          1. This country is emblematic of Western Civilization which is why I employed the shorthand. Do I really need to offer scientific precision in response to your viewpoint when you’ve provided me nothing but a string of quotes out of context?

            Someone who has that many quotes at ready certainly does not need my help digging further to find additional material that may very well speak against his own point of view unless of course you just cut-n-pasted from some website somewhere. Really, all it requires is deeper reading in our traditions.

            “The people themselves” is no empty proof as the literature on the Revolutionary War would make quite plain for you. It was many of the pulpits of this land that carried the Revolutionary Flag for a new nation and a Christian people that fought for it. But, you don’t have to take my word for it–please do feel free to read the primary and secondary source material on it. My opinions are well-reasoned and have basis in fact but just because I don’t spend the next two hours outlining them in some grand comment in response doesn’t mean that’s not so.

      2. Some SCOTUS Law of past, outlawing Polygamy, Bigamy, etc….


        In Reynolds v. United States (1878) the Supreme Court determined that “[Polygamy] is contrary to the spirit of Christianity and of the civilization which Christianity had produced in the Western world.”

        In Davis v. Beason (1890), a similar ruling was made: “Bigamy and polygamy are crimes by the laws of all civilized and Christian countries. . . . To call their advocacy a tenet of religion is to offend the common sense of mankind. If they are crimes, then to teach, advise and counsel their practice is to aid in their commission, and such teaching and counseling are themselves criminal and proper subjects of punishment, as aiding and abetting crime are in all other cases.”

        In The Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States (1890), the court determined that “the property of the said corporation . . . [is to be used to promote] the practice of polygamy — a crime against the laws, and abhorrent to the sentiments and feelings of the civilized world. . . . The organization of a community for the spread and practice of polygamy is, in a measure, a return to barbarism. It is contrary to the spirit of Christianity and of the civilization which Christianity had produced in the Western world.”

          1. They know a surprising amount.

            If the point of the post above is to prove that some jurists believe in the idea of Ameica as a “Christian country,” I’ve conceded that point already:

            “Clearly some early founders and some jurists have emphasized the importance to America of “Judeo-Christian” beliefs. What I take issue with, and what your opinion in no way supports, is the notion that ‘Almost our entire basis of law and freedom in this country is based on Christian concerns.’ This is demonstrably false.”

            And so it is. The handful of quotes I offered help to clearly illustrate this. This is not to say that “Christianity” hasn’t been an enormous influence in America. It obviously has. But the basis of law and freedom in this country is diverse and varied, rooted in everything from Deism to Agnosticism to Enlightenment principles to Philosophy to etc etc etc.

            If there was another point to posting those cases then my apologies for wasting the space above, and I’d enjoy hearing more about it. You’ve certainly selected some interesting ones.

        1. If the point of this is to prove that some jurists believe in the idea of Ameica as a “Christian country,” I’ve conceded that point already:

          “Clearly some early founders and some jurists have emphasized the importance to America of “Judeo-Christian” beliefs. What I take issue with, and what your opinion in no way supports, is the notion that ‘Almost our entire basis of law and freedom in this country is based on Christian concerns.’ This is demonstrably false.”

          And so it is. The handful of quotes I offered help to clearly illustrate this. This is not to say that “Christianity” in all of its forms hasn’t been an enormous influence in America. It obviously has. But the basis of law and freedom in this country is diverse and varied, rooted in everything from Deism to Agnosticism to Enlightenment principles to Greek Philosophy to etc etc etc.

          If there was another point to posting those cases then my apologies for wasting the space above, and I’d enjoy hearing more about it. You’ve certainly selected some interesting ones.

  7. You may also want to consider the following well-considered legal opinion:

    The professors’ legal analysis stated, “The Amendment does not forbid the legal recognition or validity of all domestic relationships, but only of domestic ‘unions.’ The flaw in Professor Eichner’s analysis is that she does not give the term ‘union’ its proper effect in limiting the Amendment’s reach.” In addition, the law professors found that, “The plain language of the Amendment reaches only domestic unions—marriage and marriage imitations or substitutes—not all domestic relationships. There is no evidence that North Carolina’s proposed Amendment is intended to go further than the marriage amendments in every other state by barring the state, as Professor Eichner claims, from giving unmarried couples ‘much less significant protections than those accorded married couples.’”

    1. Mr. Johnson, you do realize that you’re relying on the “well-considered legal opinion” of Professors at a conservatively Christian, Baptist law school with evident self-interest in downplaying Amendment 1′s potential negative effects?

      The mere fact that there exist competing analyses of the potential effects of Amendment 1 implies that interpreting the Amendment will likely lead to differing opinions regarding the effect of the Amendment. Law is interpretation. These Professors aren’t “right”, nor are they impartial. They are arguing for a side – one they assumedly consider themselves to be a part of.

      1. LOL. Like the legal scholars you would bring from Duke or elsewhere don’t lean decidedly to the left in pursuing their own agenda at the behest of their own interests. The presence of bias or even self-interest does not preclude us from forming an adequate and reasonable opinion.

        Besides, it’s a bit insulting to think “conservative Christian” or Baptist brothers in the Lord are somehow bereft of an opinion worth keeping in contradistinction to others. I don’t mind that you disagree with them, but talking about them as if they don’t deserve a seat at the table in this discussion is demeaning and not worth consideration for even a second.

        1. The more important point is that the Campbell Law professors’ interpretation confirms that the bill forbids state recognition of civil partnerships. This could very well mean, among other things, that state employees are not allowed to carry non-married partners or partners’ children on medical insurance and the like.

          I get the sense that most people who are linking to the Campbell profs’ report aren’t homing in on the very specific issue they’re addressing, in response to another quite extensive and specific report.

          1. But, Daniel, that’s not true. As an MBA, former business owner, and a student of contract law I can tell you that insurance companies and the companies we work for most certainly have the ability to make all these benefits available by contract regardless as to what the law says. And, many companies are already doing that now. So, the point to the contrary is absolutely moot. Forbidding state recognition only results in avoiding such benefits available to “civil partnerships” becoming mandatory for all companies everywhere. If we are truly wanting to be democratic here, we should leave this up to the companies and not mandate a specific benefit in contradistinction to traditional law on the topic.

        2. Mr. Johnson, I’m not sure what makes MMorse’s point so funny… Your latest reply completely fails to respond to what MMorse was saying. Instead you chose to weed out and respond to an exaggerated rhetoric of your own creation. If anything MMorse was saying that opinions regarding any law in any given circumstance, “well-considered” or otherwise, are merely a biased response to a biased interpretation of said law, and you should therefore avoid putting too much stock into any one given opinion. In other words, touting one idea as “right” or another as “wrong” when it comes to matters of the law is risky business. No one ever said that conservative christians “don’t deserve a seat at the table”, that language is inflammatory, and YOUR hyperbole is laughable.

        3. Who brought up Duke? Or any “left-leaning” people for that matter? Who suggested that Campbell “doesn’t deserve a seat at the table,” as opposed to pointing out their evident self-interest in analysing this Amendment? Oh. You did. Because you need your strawmen, I guess? Stop hurting your own feelings.

          The presence of bias and self-interest does not preclude formation of reasonable opinion. You are correct. But the presence of bias and self-interest can be, and often verifiably is, a hindrance to the formation of reasonable legal opinion (that’s why Judge’s recuse themselves), and you’re disingenous to suggest otherwise.

          What’s truly insulting here is the effort being made to keep people in a democracy who’ve done nothing legally wrong from enjoying equal rights under the pretext of “God thinks its wrong.” That’s insulting.

          1. Just pointing out that the afore mentioned Campbell Professor’s argument is shared by only 2 other law professors in the state (both also at Campbell), while many many more professors have publicly disagreed with him from every other law school in the state.

          2. Why would you need to bring up self-interest and bias (as if no one knows that all views work with such), then, except to potentially excuse what’s being said?

            Why not simply deal with the opinion as it has been offered? That would have been a better way to handle it and I likely wouldn’t have responded so strongly in return.

            1. I brought it up because those factors are relevant to the opinion as it has been offered. They are relevant to every opinion offered up by a law professor or Judge. These Professors are offering their interpretation of the law.

              Specifically, they’ve offered up an opinion on a controversial law which among other things, and according to a number of other reputable professors, will act as an overbroad law that captures more people and relationships than it should. Overbroad laws generally get struck down. Campbell’s Professors have stated that the law will not operate that way. It is relevant, given that they are seeming to argue against the Amendment being overbroad and so void generally, that all three Professors have a documented history of intolerance toward gay marriage and gay service in the military. Because of this, the question of bias and self-interest is proper.

              William Woodruff, one of the Professors, wrote against repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, saying “Service members who have a genuine propensity to indulge in homosexual acts have a serious handicap, which many would call a character defect, regardless of how soldierly, good, or noble they may be in other respects.”

              Lynn R. Buzzard, vocally against gay marriage generally, has written: “our society may accept a wide range of sexual behavior without criminal penalty; that’s different from saying society must treat all sexual behavior as having the same value for society.”

              E. Gregory Wallace signed the Marriage Law Project’s London Conference Statement, which reads: “We believe that marriage is the unique union of a man and a woman, a community of life and love. Marriage so understood is built into the fabric of social life, and cannot be arbitrarily redefined by lawmakers. Male-female marriage provides incomparable benefits to society, especially for children and for those who invest their lives in raising their children.”

              These are not disinterested Professors. I do not mean to imply that they are intentionally trying to make the Amendment seem less harmful or overbroad than it is. It is entirely possible that they are writing without any bias at all. But family law professors from every other law school in the state have criticized the Campbell paper (check the link below if you’d like verification, and note that none of the Campbell writers are family law professors). And so the fact of their beliefs about gay marriage and homosexuality raises a legitimate question regarding bias and self-interest.


  8. Daniel, as an European outsider I don’t know enough to comment on North Carolina, but just to say thank you for framing this discussion around the need for CHristians to actually factor in ‘neighbour love’ and what rights we seek for ourselves we need to be willing to grant others. So often Christian responses to issues of pluralism seem sub-Christian in terms of self-protection and ‘one-way’ rights while ignoring the factors you mention.

    I’ve been blogging about Civil Partnership and different Christian responses in Ireland and arguing for the need to think through neighbour love theologically. While the answers won’t be easy or obvious at least Christians need to be asking the question.

  9. “In other words: this is not merely about a definition of marriage, but about foundational civil liberties.”

    Dr Kirk-

    You’re right, this isn’t about the definition of marriage, it is about the re-definition of marriage. The underlying notion of homosexual marriage is to fundamentally redefine an institution that has been around, seemingly forever. There is no precedent to redefine marriage as qualifying man with man, or woman with woman. Even when people unfortunately compare interracial marriage with that of homosexual marriage (which is comparing apples and oranges), the precedent there is that regardless of the color of a man or woman’s skin, marriage still existed between people of the opposite sex. Thus interracial marriage never redefined the institution; it was the fulfillment of it.

    The idea of standing or voting against homosexual marriage constituting and infringement upon civil liberties is in error. Again, aside from redefining marriage to include homosexuals, specifically, what civil liberties are being infringed upon? As the law exists in any state in which it has passed, upon the will of the people, it is illegal for a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman. That means the law doesn’t discriminate based upon the notion of sexual preference. The law, anywhere it exists, does not say that a homosexual man (or woman) cannot marry a man (or woman); it simply states that it is against the law for anyone of one gender to marry another person of the same gender- which means a heterosexual man (or woman) and a homosexual man (or woman) cannot marry another man (or woman), which is equal treatment under the law. As that law stands, it isn’t predicated on a Christian worldview whatsoever.

    Now if the civil liberty in which you refer is the infringement of the law upon consenting adults marrying who they love (and I don’t know if that is what you mean), I think that opens up more problems. One the laws aren’t based on love. It isn’t illegal to love someone of the same sex or even cohabitate with them.

    But, if the denial of civil liberty is love and you are suggesting that they should have the freedom to marry who they love, at which point does society allow consenting adults to marry whom they love? We don’t extend that privilege to first cousins, brother and sister, parents and children, polygamy or bigamy and in all these situations, the adults in this unfortunate situations would say that they are consenting and would argue their case based upon love and freedom. Thus why should we not discriminate against homosexuals, yet extend that discrimination to first cousins? To polygamists? To siblings? At what point is it ok to discriminate and for what reasons?

    If the civil liberty in which you refer is, say, civil unions, that is something different and worthy of discussion.

    Christian love of neighbor is one thing, but arbitrarily moving the goal posts is something else. I agree that we are to love our homosexual brothers and sisters in the same fashion as Christ indeed loves us, but allowing homosexuals to marry while not permitting any of the other cases in which love and freedom exist is simply transferring discrimination to some other party, which doesn’t seem Christ-like.

  10. I don’t think this is fundamentally a religious issue. I believe that it is fundamentally a creation issue, an identity issue, an issue of personal and societal well-being. God wrote the instruction manual for the creatures made in His image, and He told us that it is best for us and for the world if we behave in certain ways. One of the three orthodox uses of the law is for the general protection of mankind outside of any religious motivation. As long as I have the freedom to exercise my vote, as long as society is asking for my input, I am going to pull in the direction of God’s best for everyone – even when not everyone agrees.

    I hope I do take Paul’s words as my standard of conduct, not judging others, treating them with respect and compassion. I always try to treat those who have aborted their children with respect and compassion, too, but I believe it would have been better FOR THEM never to have done that, whether they are believers or not. Protecting them from the consequences of their own misguided actions is an important means of loving my neighbor.

  11. Wow! Mr. Kirk you so miss the point! If you want to make any issue about what MAN thinks it will be easy to find problems with it. You will NEVER find anywhere in the Bible that the Spirit or God or Jesus in any way condones homosexuality. The Trinity’s call is never about making things easier for the sinner (which includes ALL of us). Christ has always been about speaking to our heart and changing both our heart and our behavior. Having said that and fully understanding what Christ requires of us there are things that are simply wrong and sinful in God’s eye’s (not your eyes Mr. Kirk). As harsh as it may sound the behavior of homosexuality is such a sin (as is pornography, child abuse and so on) Follow God Mr. Kirk not your own view(s) on whatever issue presents itself.

  12. One issue that we have to accept is that in America, marriage is not nationally considered a religious or faith-based issue. People of faith do consider it such as Christians, Jews, Muslims, and the like all consider it to be a sacred event. However, when the issue of marriage was allowed to be a civil concept (ie you can go to a Justice of the Peace and get married without having to have the blessing of a religious institution) it became for all intents and purposes something the state had a say in, for better or for worse.

    It doesn’t matter whether or not marriage is sacred or divinely arranged. Because we have made it legal in our country to do outside of the church, is has become a right for people to have access to either have or not. Yes we have a higher standard in the body of Christ to uphold, but the laws of our country do not discriminate in the same ways that the law of God does.

    Once the church was no longer the authority by which marriage was governed, we lost the ability to define it except by legislation. We have lost that edge or majority in our country, and thus we have arrived at this issue. Do I agree that marriage should include same-sex unions? No. But, as long at the issue is a legal one in our country, it is a civil issue. A civil right is something that should be allowed for all people, or in the case of things most of the time, should be allowed by laws put into place by a majority of the people. Whether we like it or not, we’ve abdicated our responsibility as a whole in the church and allowed it to become a civil issue. That, in our pluralistic society makes it an equality issue and that makes it a legality issue.

  13. From a legal perspective – The alligations of Maxine Eichner (where most are getting their arguments against the amendment) are something to think about, but they’re also things that have already been dealt with. This article from professors at Campbell University,, discusses states that have similarly, if not more harshly, worded amendments to their constitutions who have come up against the same issues and found a way to make it work (in some cases) and to stick to what their citizens voted for (in others).

    From a Christian perspective – I think that this is a turciary issue that is okay to disagree on. I do not think it is sinful to vote one way or the other. Scripture obviously doesn’t speak very clearly to this and so I think with much prayer, consideration, and researching people can form their opinions and vote accordingly. I think people who differ should hold their opinions loosely, knowing that their opinion isn’t inspired – it’s just the most informed decision they could make. This is an issue that can be disagreed upon and the people who disagree can still serve together and be a part of the same community – it’s not a foundational issue.

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