Mr. Walker is correct that there is a great deal of confusion regarding the Marriage Amendment appearing on the May 8 ballot. Unfortunately his letter fails to resolve the debate and in fact includes its own incomplete information and outright inaccuracies.
Mr. Walker cites the work of three law professors from Campbell University who refuted claims that the Amendment would damage all unmarried couples. He fails to mention that all three have made statements in the past regarding their opposition to gay rights, which doesn’t necessarily disprove their legal analysis but does make one wonder if they are writing more about their preferred ideology rather than sober-minded legal thinking. And if those allegations are so incorrect, why does conservative Congresswoman Renee Ellmers oppose the measure? Why does the director of the John Locke Foundation oppose the measure? Several professors from UNC-Chapel Hill also wrote a legal analysis that suggested that many protections could be taken away from unmarried couples if a case comes up in front of the wrong judge. At best, the debate is very unclear and everyone considering a vote for the measure should be aware how problematic the measure’s wording is.
Mr. Walker then states that this measure will prevent the law being “overturned by liberal judges” and cites California as an example. He should do more research on what happened with California and Proposition 8. The judge who ruled that Prop 8 violated the U.S. Constitution was not some “liberal judge”. Vaughn Walker was originally an appointee of Ronald Reagan but his nomination fell through after opposition from many Democrats including Nancy Pelosi. He was later nominated to the bench successfully by George Bush. A little bit of research suggests he has “libertarian” and “conservative” views and was at one time active in Republican politics. Hardly the description of a “liberal judge”. Second, it should be pointed out that Vaughn Walker was a federal judge when he overturned Prop 8. It doesn’t matter what was in California’s constitution as it was overturned on federal grounds. Even if this measure passes in North Carolina, it is irrelevant whether it’s in the state constitution or not. If a federal judge or the Supreme Court rules at some point in the future that the U.S. Constitution allows gay people to get married, the law will be overturned because federal law trumps state law. The best argument supporters can make is therefore completely redundant.
I voted against the measure. Even if I was 100% convinced the measure would only affect gays, I would have voted against as I am not interested in treating my gay and lesbian friends as second-class citizens. But even the most vehement opponents of gay marriage should recognize that this measure has the potential to affect many heterosexual couples as illustrated by the opposition of the previously mentioned names and many others I don’t have the space to include. And supporters of the measure should ask why they should fight so hard to pass a measure in an effort to protect it from “liberal judges” when doing so does nothing to protect against federal judges, whether they be liberal, moderate, or conservative.