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The Marriage Protection Amendment

On May 8, 2012, after an eightyear legislative battle, the people of North Carolina will finally have the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment preserving the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA) vote will determine whether to add the following provision to the North Carolina Constitution: “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.

With an increasing number of states redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, there has never been a more important time for the people of North Carolina to vote on protecting the institution of marriage. Following are the top 10 reasons the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman should be preserved through an amendment to the North Carolina State Constitution.

We encourage you to share this information with your congregations, neighbors, family members, and friends prior to the May 8 primary.

1. Marriage is a foundational institution of society that is built upon the complementary male-female union.

  • Marriage between men and women is found in nearly every human society as far back as historians can trace. Although homosexuality existed in some form in cultures throughout history, heterosexual marriage has always been the norm.
  • Marriage has been universally understood as the publicly recognized union of a man and a woman that is set apart from all other relationships and privileged through law because it creates the best and safest environment for raising children.
  • One of the core purposes of marriage is procreation, and only the sexual union of a man and a woman can naturally create a child.
  • By the same token, thousands of studies across the social sciences have confirmed that children have a natural need and desire for a relationship with both their father and mother, and that they do best when this relationship occurs within an intact, married family.

2. The marital union and the natural family it creates provide a wide array of benefits for individuals and society that no other family form can replicate.

  • The marital union of a man and a woman provides children with a father and a mother, the central ingredient for raising healthy children and building a strong society. A vast body of research involving children from broken homes, where one biological parent is missing, has found that children do best when raised by their married parents.
  • Eighteen of the nation’s top family scholars have concluded that, “The intact biological, married family remains the gold standard for family life in the United States,” and that “Marriage is an important public good, associated with a range of economic, health, educational, and safety benefits that help local, state, and federal governments serve the common good.”
  • The myriad of benefits of marriage for adults include: increased family wealth; less poverty, especially for women; better health and longer life expectancies, especially for men; lower rates of depression, especially for women; less risk of domestic violence, especially for women; and better relationships with children, especially for fathers.
  • The benefits for children of growing up with their married opposite-sex parents include: better physical, mental and emotional health; educational success; less drug and alcohol use and abuse; a lower risk of early sexual activity and teen pregnancy; a lower risk of juvenile delinquency and incarceration, especially for boys; and healthier relationships and marriages as adults.
  • A group of family scholars also concluded that, “Marriage is an important public good, associated with a range of economic, health, educational, and safety benefits that help local, state, and federal governments serve the common good.”
  • More children growing up with their own married mothers and fathers results in fewer societal ills, and therefore less reliance on local, state, and federal governments for assistance, such as welfare, child support, and other social services, and the associated and economic costs that place a demand on the state.

3. The historic understanding of marriage is under increasing attack nationwide.

  • Eight states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, and Maryland) plus the District of Columbia have passed laws that redefine marriage to include same-sex couples (note that the marriage redefinition laws in Washington and Maryland are not yet in effect).
  • The redefinition of marriage has been achieved only through the courts or by legislative action—never by a vote of the people.
  • Legislative efforts to redefine marriage are currently underway in a number of other states, including Rhode Island and New Jersey.
  • Hawaii, Delaware, Rhode Island and Illinois have legalized “civil unions,” which have proven to be the first step toward the redefinition of marriage in other states with similar laws, such as Vermont, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. That is why North Carolina’s proposed Marriage Protection Amendment includes strong language aimed at prohibiting the legalization of civil unions or domestic partnerships by stating that, “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.
  • In an ongoing legal battle that will eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, homosexual activists are challenging California’s marriage amendment, Proposition 8. In August 2010, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional, and on February 7, 2012, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld that ruling, stating that the decision applied only to the narrow case of California, where the state supreme court had previously granted marriage to same-sex couples. Proposition 8 proponents have filed an appeal of that decision with the full 9th Circuit.
  • Homosexual advocacy groups have filed several lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman for federal purposes, and protects states from having to recognize the same-sex “marriages” performed in states where it is legal.
  • In July 2010, a federal judge in Massachusetts ruled that Section 3 of the federal DOMA is unconstitutional. The same judge issued a similar ruling in another lawsuit challenging the federal DOMA. Both decisions are on hold, pending appeal.
  • If the federal DOMA is successfully overturned in the courts, it could adversely impact the DOMA laws of 37 states, including North Carolina.

4. Thirty (30) other states, including every southern state except North Carolina, have responded to these attacks on marriage by protecting marriage through state constitutional amendments.

  • In every state where the definition of marriage has been on the ballot, the measure has been approved by the majority of voters with an average passage rate of 67.3 percent.
  • Whenever the question of redefining marriage is taken out of the hands of politicians and presented directly to the American people, it is soundly rejected.
  • For example, Maine citizens voted in 2009 to repeal a marriage redefinition law enacted by the state legislature earlier that year.

5. In North Carolina, homosexual activists are slowly chipping away at laws that protect marriage and the family through incremental changes at the state and local levels. These efforts include:

  • Recent court decisions recognizing same-sex relationships in ways that our laws never have before, such as rulings that grant parenting rights to non-biological homosexual partners;
  • The passage of the School Violence Prevention Act in 2009, which inserted the undefined terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” into state law for the first time, giving homosexual activists the opportunity to influence future generations in our schools about marriage;
  • The adoption of domestic partnership policies by an increasing number of counties, cities and towns throughout the state (so far, Mecklenburg, Orange, and Durham counties, and the cities/towns of Durham, Greensboro, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Asheville); • Efforts to add “sexual orientation” as a protected class to local government non-discrimination policies, as well as efforts to pass a state-level employment nondiscrimination law that includes protections for “actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.” (At the state level, these efforts have thus far been rejected by the General Assembly.)
  • Laws that include “sexual orientation” and/ or “gender identity” as specially protected classes have been cited by the courts in other states—including California, Connecticut, and Iowa—to justify the redefinition of marriage on the grounds that denying same-sex couples the ability to legally marry is a form of “discrimination.”

6. North Carolina’s marriage laws, while strong, are increasingly vulnerable to legal challenges and revision by the courts.

  • Although North Carolina law defines marriage as only between a man and a woman, and is further protected through a DOMA law that specifies that same-sex “marriages” performed in other states will not be recognized here, similar laws in other states have proven to be no match for activist judges or politicians who are intent on overturning them.
  • In April 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down Iowa’s marriage laws as unconstitutional. Similar to North Carolina, Iowa had a DOMA law on the books, but lacked a Marriage Protection Amendment.
  • The escalating legal challenges to the federal DOMA pose a significant threat to state DOMA laws, including North Carolina’s.
  • It is only a matter of time before a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s marriage laws is filed by one or more same-sex couples from this state that have been legally “married” in D.C. or states where same-sex “marriage” is legal.
  • A lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s marriage laws was filed in December 2011 in the Guilford County Superior Court. The lawsuit, which was filed by lead plaintiff Jeff Thigpen, Guilford County’s Register of Deeds, along with several other local residents, including two homosexual couples, claims that it is unconstitutional for the State to require that marriages be solemnized by religious clergy and licensed by the State.
  • In October 2011, homosexual activists in Asheville launched a “WE DO” campaign that involved more than one dozen same-sex couples requesting (and subsequently being denied) marriage licenses from the Register of Deeds in Asheville.
  • The only way to protect North Carolina’s marriage laws from redefinition by state courts is to preserve the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman through an amendment to the State Constitution.

7. The Marriage Protection Amendment is about preservation, NOT discrimination.

  • Opponents have described the Marriage Protection Amendment as a “ban on gay ‘marriage.’” However, it would simply preserve in the State Constitution the institution of marriage that has existed throughout history, making a positive statement about what constitutes a marriage in North Carolina.
  • Marriage by definition is an exclusive institution. Marriage is not open to everyone—for example, children cannot get married (there is an age requirement), certain blood relatives cannot get married (such as siblings), and more than two people cannot legally marry (bigamy and polygamy are illegal).
  • The Marriage Protection Amendment is about preserving the universal institution that for thousands of years and across all civilizations has brought men and women together to create the best environment for raising children.

8. The Marriage Protection Amendment will help preserve the right of parents to transmit core values about sex, gender, and family to their children.

  • When the legal definition of marriage is redefined to include same-sex couples, thousands of other laws are altered as well—including what is taught in public schools concerning marriage, relationships, gender, and sexuality.
  • In states where same-sex “marriage” is legal, such as Massachusetts, children are taught in school that homosexuality is normal, and that same-sex unions are the legal and moral equivalent of traditional marriage.
  • For example, a lesbian teacher in Massachusetts, who teaches sex education to 8th graders, told National Public Radio (NPR) that she answers students’ questions about homosexuality using a chart listing different sexual activities, and then asks them whether two people of the same sex can engage in those activities. She told NPR she asks students, “Can a woman and a woman have vaginal intercourse, and they will all say no. And I’ll say, `Hold it. Of course, they can. They can use a sex toy.’” She also said her response to any challenges from parents would be, “Give me a break. It’s legal now.”
  • In 2007, a federal appeals court upheld a district court ruling that an elementary school in Lexington, Massachusetts was justified in refusing to notify parents about pro-homosexual materials presented in the classroom. The courts agreed with the school district’s argument that the school’s opt-out policy did not apply to instruction on homosexuality and same-sex “marriage,” which is legal in Massachusetts.

9. The Marriage Protection Amendment is necessary to preserve the freedoms of speech and religion in North Carolina.

  • Religious freedom and free speech are under attack in countries where same-sex “marriage” is legal, such as Canada and Sweden, where pastors have been punished—and even jailed—for speaking out against the normalization of homosexuality.
  • A 2008 report by the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty warned that the legalization of same-sex “marriage” in the United States would trigger hundreds of state-level anti discrimination laws, which would be used to bring lawsuits against religious individuals and organizations that refuse to: hire same-sex individuals, perform same-sex wedding ceremonies or rent their church facilities for that purpose, or rent housing to same-sex couples.
  • As recently as 2011, religious adoption agencies in a growing number of states that have either redefined marriage or legalized civil unions have gone out of business rather than place children with same-sex couples as the laws require. This includes the closing of some adoption and foster care programs of the Catholic Charities of Illinois in 2011 (Illinois legalized civil unions in 2011); Catholic Charities of DC in 2010, which handed over its foster care and public adoption program to a national group; and Catholic Charities of Boston, MA, in 2006, which chose to end its foster care and adoption ministry rather than comply with Massachusetts’ marriage redefinition law.

10. The Marriage Protection Amendment has a broad and diverse base of public support among North Carolinians from both political parties and a variety of religious backgrounds.

  • The coalition behind the Marriage Protection Amendment consists of a wide range of North Carolinians from a variety of religious, political, and racial backgrounds.
  • A 2009 survey of 5,009 registered voters in the state—which was commissioned by the North Carolina Family Policy Council— found that 73 percent would be “likely” to vote in favor of a MPA. The poll also found that 71 percent of those polled would be “more likely” to vote for a candidate who supports the MPA.
  • According to a February 2012 poll by the John W. Pope Civitas Institute, nearly twothirds of likely voters in North Carolina support protecting marriage in the state constitution. The survey found that 64 percent favored “a constitutional amendment that says: ‘Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State’,” while 30 percent were opposed.



Alysse ElHage, M.A., is associate director of research for the North Carolina Family Policy Council.



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