Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Should we care how officials vote on Amendment One?

How important is it to know how our elected officials will vote on N.C.’s same sex marriage amendment next month?

Mecklenburg’s Board of County Commissioners planned to discuss a resolution addressing the amendment tonight, but chair Harold Cogdell postponed the vote because commissioner Jennifer Roberts won’t be at the meeting. We think the board should cancel the vote altogether rather than wasting county time grandstanding on an issue that at this point doesn’t need their attention.

What, though, of the candidates for public office in 2012? Amendment One is fast becoming a litmus test, and at least one candidate doesn’t much want to talk about it.

In Tuesday’s Observer, reporter Tim Funk asked a clearly reluctant gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory about his thoughts on Amendment One, which would constitutionally ban same sex marriage and jeopardize benefits that homosexuals in civil unions receive. McCrory, of course, is best served talking about the topic as little as possible. You don’t want to loudly take sides on issues that will anger potential supporters - in McCrory’s case the urban and suburban moderates he’ll fight for this fall.

McCrory told the Observer he plans to vote for the amendment but didn’t want to say why. Asked what he would say to Charlotte’s business executives who have come out against the amendment, McCrory said: “Let me say this: We’re taking it to the people and let them vote. I respect the opinions that are being presented on all sides, and I’ve stated how I plan to vote.”

McCrory has a point. His vote is his own, and May 8 is about representing yourself, not potential constituents. And while that vote might tell us something about the character of a candidate, what's more critical to know is the practical application of that character. Would he or she vote individual values in office, or do the will of those constituents?

In the case of same sex marriage, that opportunity might come shortly after May 8. Should Amendment 1 pass, as polls have shown it probably will, N.C. lawmakers will likely have to confront the probability that the amendment jeopardizes the legal agreements and employment benefits of same sex couples. What we really want to know of candidates is this: Would you support protecting those benefits and interests?

McCrory has been consistent on that issue. In 2003 and 2004, he opposed providing employee benefits to same sex partners. He also pointedly declined to send a welcome letter to those attending a dinner in Charlotte for the Human Rights Campaign, which supported same sex marriage.

His most likely opponents in the fall aren’t as easy to predict, despite what they might tell you. Bob Etheridge and Walter Dalton each say they’re against Amendment One, but in 2006, then U.S. Rep. Etheridge voted for a resolution that called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have had the same potential impact on civil unions and benefits as N.C.’s pending amendment. Etheridge told the editorial board last week that while he believes marriage should be between a man and woman, his position has since changed on civil unions.

Dalton also once supported anti-gay legislation, co-sponsoring N.C.’s Defense of Marriage Act in 2005. Asked about that at Monday’s gubernatorial debate, he gave perhaps the most honest answer of this election season.

“I was running in my State Senate District then,” he said. “I need votes from a different group of people now."

Peter St. Onge


Anonymous said...

Here's a great picture of Mr. Etheridge for voters to chew on:


Wiley Coyote said...


Our Flip Flop in Chief is a perfect example of that.

He was against gay marriage before he was for it.

One person, one vote, so who cares how the BOCC votes. We already know the outcome anyway, 8 to 1.

Shelly said...

And this is one of the reasons I am voting for Pat. He votes his conscience.

BleedCrimson&White '98 said...

Yep, votes his conscience that he doesn't want to talk about. I think the issue we should be more concerned about is the fact that there are a lot of people that don't even know what Amendment One is about and Early Voting starts Thursday.

Again, you cannot get married in this state if you are a same sex couple. Why do we need to tinker with the state Constitution? Afraid that a law could be overturned more easily? Why the hate?

Ghoul said...

No, but what we should care about is the manipulation of the news by the Observer with their selective reporting on the gay Democrat who couldn't keep his hands off the help.

Maybe you can get Kathy Sheldon to remove this post as well.

Gipper1965 said...

One can vote their conscience and be utterly wrong. Denying some people rights and priviledges enjoyed by a majority of other citizens is not only morally reprehensible it's ethically challenged. Fortunately, lots of talented, generous, people will see this act of cowardice and turn away from North Carolina as they have other states who reject equal rights and that's how t should be in a free market. Unfortunately, NC will be just another average state with a backward thinking mentality that the next generation will have to clean up. How sad.

Garth Vader said...

The governor is not involved in the passage of amendments to the NC Constitution (it's the legislature and the people) just as the president is not involved in the passage of amendments to the US Constitution (Congress and state legislatures). With the dozens of issues that a governor *does* influence, it seems irrelevant to press gubernatorial candidates on this issue instead.

I voted for a candidate other than Mr. McCrory in the 2008 primary and the 2008 general, and I will vote for Judge Paul Wright against Mr. McCrory in this primary and against Amendment One, but I do not have a problem with Mr. McCrory downplaying this issue other than to indicate how he'll vote as an NC citizen, which is the only influence he'll have over it.

Dolley said...

Well said, Gipper. Gay marriage is already illegal. This mean spirited amendment is nothing more that a way for religious zealots to feel good about themselves by punishing those they consider “sinners,” using the cross and the constitution as cudgel.