Don’t Call North Carolina’s Amendment 1 a Ban!
So says Ryan T. Anderson at National Review, splitting hairs and missing the point:
Today’s vote in North Carolina is not about banning anything. Nothing will be made illegal as a result. In all fifty states across the nation two people of the same sex can live together, have their religious community bless their union, and have their workplace offer them various joint benefits — if the religious communities and workplaces in question so desire. Many liberal houses of worship and progressive businesses have voluntarily decided to do so. There’s nothing illegal about this. There’s no ban on it.
What’s at issue is whether the government will recognize such unions as marriages — and then force every citizen and business to do so as well. This isn’t the legalization of something, this is the coercion and compulsion of others to recognize and affirm same-sex unions as marriages.
Anderson is correct in so far as same-sex couples can, under the amendment, call their relationships “marriage” and, under some conditions, receive benefits associated with the institution. He’s wrong, however, in concluding that there’s therefore no ban.
The amendment stipulates that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” With it in place, same-sex couples are prohibited from obtaining legal recognition of their unions by, say, challenging in court the prohibition of same-sex marriage already on the books. Any change in the law to allow same-sex unions would be unconstitutional in the state. There’s a ban there, in effect if not explicitly in the words of the amendment.
Voters in North Carolina supported the amendment in an additional effort to stop a small percentage of their fellow residents from entering into legal unions to which they object. They should own up to the effects of their endeavors. So should Ryan T. Anderson.