By Dr. Mark H. Creech
Christian Action League
Recently, I came across an advertisement against the North Carolina Marriage Protection Amendment that caught my attention. It raised a host of bogus arguments against the amendment, contending that benefits might be taken away, emergency medical and financial decisions might be negatively affected, domestic violence laws might be hurt, it might hurt the economy, etc.
None of these objections, however, have any basis in fact whatsoever. It’s all conjecture and speculation, which is meant to raise enough doubt to cause people to vote against the amendment.
In fact, the ad disingenuously concludes that if the marriage amendment fails everything will remain the same.
Really? If the amendment fails, is it that simple?
Here are some considerations that are neither conjecture nor speculation, but are based squarely in fact.
Because North Carolina is the only state in the southeast that has not protected marriage in its constitution, the Tar Heel state is vulnerable to a court challenge that could overturn as unconstitutional its current statutes that define marriage as being between one man and one woman.
This threat to traditional marriage in North Carolina is real!
In September of last year, same-sex couples lined up at the Buncombe County Clerk of Court’s office demanding that they be given marriage licenses, setting up a potential legal challenge to the state’s marriage laws. A Guilford County Court challenge filed in December of last year, which remains on appeal, argues the state’s marriage laws, among other things, are unconstitutional because they don’t allow same-sex couples to marry. Moreover, there is always the possibility a same-sex couple that has been married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal – and has now taken up residence in this state – could sue to have their marriage recognized here. Should the courts rule in favor of any of these scenarios, marriage would not only be altered to accommodate same-gender coupling, but it would redefine the institution for all the state’s citizens.
Contrary to the understanding of many, same-sex marriage is not something that would simply exist alongside of traditional marriage; as if it were just a different expression of the same institution. No, instead there would be a completely new legal paradigm, redefining the institution for everyone in the state. The legal understanding of marriage would no longer be one man and one woman, but the union of two adults, regardless of their gender.
This redefined version of marriage as a genderless institution would be the only legally recognized definition. Such a radical change in the definition of marriage will unquestionably produce a myriad of societal conflicts that the government using its broad enforcement powers will have to resolve. In other words, citizens, businesses or religious organizations unwilling to comply with this new legal orthodoxy on marriage would find themselves outside of the law and vulnerable to the powers of the government to bring them into compliance.
If one should think this assertion is hyperbole or fear mongering, then it should be noted this is already happening in places where same-sex marriage has become legal.
Religious groups unwilling to make their facilities available for same-sex couples have lost their state tax exemption status. Catholic Charities of Boston had to end their adoption work, deciding to abandon their longstanding religious social mission, because they were unwilling to comply with Massachusetts’ law that allows gays to adopt children. Children in Massachusetts have been taught about gay marriage as early as second grade, and when parents objected, the courts ruled they had no right to prior notice nor were they allowed to opt their children out of class.
Christian innkeepers in Vermont and New Hampshire have been sued over their refusal to make their facilities available for same-sex ceremonies.
In other countries like Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal, the Alberta New Education Act proposed that parents of homeschoolers must refrain from teaching their children homosexuality is a sin as a part of their educational curriculum. While an upcoming election has halted the bill for now, the Home School Legal Defence Association is warning the legislation is not dead for good. A man in that same country who owned a printing press was fined over $4,000 for refusing to print stationary for a gay activist organization. Pastors and priests in Canada often wonder if they can preach from Leviticus or Romans chapter one without reprisal from the government.
If same-sex marriage is ever legalized in this state, those who believe in traditional marriage will ultimately be declared the legal equivalents of bigots for acting on their deeply held religious beliefs. And not only would the law penalize and restrict traditional marriage supporters, but the power of the government would work in concert to promote this view throughout the culture.
Is this speculation? Is this conjecture?
This is already happening in places where same-sex marriage is now legal. The N.C. Marriage Protection Amendment is the best hope of preventing this from happening in the state. What happens concerning this question in this state will likely set the course for the entire nation. What happens in the nation will affect the entire world.
While the opposition surmises, without any basis, as to the negative results of what might happen if the Marriage Amendment passes, the pro-amendment side warns of what unquestionably is already happening where the definition of marriage as one man and one woman has fallen.
Traditional marriage in North Carolina must be vigorously protected. This is why it’s critically important to Vote for the Marriage Protection Amendment on May 8.
This article first appeared in the journal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, the Biblical Recorder.