To say that the second special session of the General Assembly was anything less than exciting would be misleading. After eight years of waiting, Senator Jim Forrester (R–Gaston) finally saw his proposal to protect marriage come up for a vote— and pass in both chambers. The amendment will now be on the ballot in the North Carolina primary election scheduled for May 2012. We are grateful to Senator Forrester, as well as to the leadership in the House and Senate that brought this measure to the floor in both chambers and worked diligently to ensure its passage. The amendment gives the people of our state the opportunity to place the definition of marriage in the State Constitution, where it is beyond the reach of judicial and legislative meddling.
The ink was barely dry on the Marriage Protection Amendment bill before the phone began ringing. Many of the phone calls were congratulatory in nature, but calls also came from reporters, who asked about our future plans and strategies now that the amendment has passed. We assured them that we have a comprehensive plan that addresses all aspects of the campaign to ensure that voters are fully informed about the importance of marriage and the Marriage Protection Amendment before the primary vote in May. We’re just not at liberty to outline the details of that plan.
Several things are obvious, however, if the amendment is to pass the primary vote in May. Churches have to be involved. In recent memory, the churches in our state have not been presented with the opportunity to engage in such an important public policy issue in the public square. Marriage as the union of one man and one woman is the first institution God created, a fundamental teaching of the Church, and the bedrock of our society. Without marriage, children are not conceived and born into the relationship that is best for their development in every way.
We also need not be distracted by the strategy of the opponents to mischaracterize the amendment and turn it into something that it is not. The arguments that opponents of the amendment have been using are weak and can all be countered. The fact is that a Marriage Protection Amendment will allow North Carolina to join the 30 other states that have already taken the important step of allowing the voters to preserve the important definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
After a Marriage Protection Amendment is placed in the Constitution, a more orderly civil society can ensue. This has been the case in states that already have a constitutional amendment in place. States that do not have this protection have an area of unsettled law, where a court or legislative body can intervene at any time to introduce the rancor and division that has come in every state that has gone down the path towards marriage redefinition.
It is our hope that the debate in North Carolina will be civil, and that we will be able to address the benefits of marriage. Research conducted over the past two decades here at the North Carolina Family Policy Council, has shown that marriage between one man and one woman is of inestimable value to children, to adults, and to society at large. For us, this campaign will be a continuation of what we have been doing for years—speaking the truth in love, educating the public about the positive benefits of marriage, and why it has always been, and should remain, reserved to one man and one woman. It is important that our message reaches as large an audience as possible, and we will continue to ask for your help to accomplish this.
As we move ahead with this Marriage Protection Amendment campaign, there may be times when we all should take a deep breath and think hard about how we are approaching the issue. Our message to North Carolinians will be positive because the evidence to support marriage as the union between one man and one woman is positive. We pledge that our involvement will be honest and straightforward. After all, we serve the One who created marriage in the first place.