Crazy week in NC politics. Crazy.
The scrambling continues after Bev Perdue’s announcement. Lt. Guv Walter Dalton is in because, as someone said, that’s what Lt. Guvs do. Bill Faison is fixing to run as well.
Both gentlemen need to step up and state their positions on the marriage amendment as does everyone planning to get into the race. One thing Perdue’s decision did was guarantee a lot more voters at the polls during the primary. That changes the equation for the marriage amendment vote, which would have taken place when the primary was almost exclusively a Republican event. Now, with soon-to-announce Pat McCrory looking like he’s avoided a serious primary challenge and the likelihood that Romney will break Newt in Florida, there’s a significant shift of energy toward Dems in the primary. If Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx gets in the race that energy level will rise even higher because it will draw in significant numbers of urban African-American voters. U.S. Rep Brad Miller is also being encouraged to consider a run.
The House Rule Committee has passed H61 – a bill authorizing a referendum on a constitutional amendment restricting marriage. It now goes to the North Carolina House, which is expected to pass it.
Proponents did two key things to the bill: The first is a provision that proponents say eliminates the argument that it would outlaw domestic partnerships or hamper businesses that recognize partnerships from doing so. The second shifts the date of the referendum to the “first primary,” which proponents say eliminates the argument tha tit is not political.
To the first point: As Rep. Joe Hackney sought to point out, the wording in the new section is so undefined that it could, and likely will, have consequences outside the bill’s intent. Rep. Paul Stam may say the legislature has debated the idea over and over, but it has not debated this bill, in this circumstance and in this era. To just plunge ahead and write something into the constitution that has not been tested or debated is inviting trouble.
To the second point: We don’t know when the first primary of next year will be. As it did in 2002, redistricting could have a big effect on when primaries for some of the slate would happen. The legislature, of course, can set the date to anytime it wants. It could also shift around pretty much any primary race or group of races. Regardless of when the amendment goes to the voters, the political machine that will push for its passage will get a boost in fundraising, organization and energy. That extra boost in getting social conservatives energized could pay off if the GOP nominates someone who doesn’t light up the evangelical voters.
The switch in timing also has an effect the other way. Opposition to the bill would probably have an effect in helping turnout among the younger voters who helped put Obama over the top here in 2008. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some poll numbers showing that and the switch was made not to eliminate politics but because of it. Given that the first primary will be much more of a Republican affair statewide, a referendum would stand an even greater chance of passage than it would in the general election.
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION TO PROVIDE MARRIAGE BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN IS THE ONLY DOMESTIC LEGAL UNION THAT SHALL
BE VALID OR RECOGNIZED IN THIS STATE.
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution is amended by adding the following new section:
“Sec. 6. Marriage. 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.”
SECTION 2. The amendment set out in Section 1 of this act shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the State at a statewide election to be held on November 6, 2012, which election shall be conducted under the laws then governing elections in the State. Ballots, voting systems, or both may be used in accordance with Chapter 163 of the General Statutes. The question to be used in the voting systems and ballots shall be:
“[ ] FOR [ ] AGAINST Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”
SECTION 3. If a majority of votes cast on the question are in favor of the amendment set out in Section 1 of this act, the State Board of Elections shall certify the amendment to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State shall enroll the amendment so certified among the permanent records of that office. The amendment is effective upon
SECTION 4. This act is effective when it becomes law.
Here’s what we have to look forward to in the next year if the move to put the Gay People Can’t Marry amendment on the ballot passes. This is a National Organization for Marriage ad. You may notice that the background resembles what they run on the Weather Channel during a tropical storm update. Suddenly you are very afraid of whatever these people are talking about. It makes me nervous, too. Don’t these folks have somewhere to go in this storm. Shouldn’t they be in the basement or something? Or maybe a closet?