Local Governments Oppose Ballot Question #1: Concerned About Far-Reaching Consequences and Adverse Economic Impact
On September 19, 2006, the Arlington County Board adopted a resolution formally opposing the proposed Marshall/Newman amendment to Virginia’s Bill of Rights. The Board said in a press release that, “although the amendment is being sold as a simple prohibition on gay marriage, it in fact goes much further. The proposed amendment would prohibit a range of benefits for all unmarried couples — straight and gay — and the broad and confusing language may have ‘unintended and unpredictable legal consequences.’”
The resolution adopted by the Board also emphasized the adverse economic consequences of the proposed amendment:
Noting that the proposed amendment’s language “encompasses civil unions and domestic partnerships,” the resolution states that it “could have the effect of discouraging high-value workers and businesses from locating” in Virginia and Arlington, “thus putting us at a competitive disadvantage relative to DC, Maryland and many other states where no such impediments now exist.”
This week, the Falls Church City Council joined the Arlington County Board in adopting a resolution expressing its formal opposition to the Marshall/Newman Amendment, Ballot Question #1 in November.
The Council vote was unanimous. According to news reports, Mayor Robin Gardner, who introduced the resolution said that the Council “recognized that the proposed Marshall Newsman Unmarried Couples Amendment will have a detrimental effect on the citizens of Falls Church. We felt we should let our citizens know that broad-sweeping amendment will not only affect gay couples, but all unmarried couples. This amendment will take away rights from all Virginia citizens.”
The Mayor went on to emphasize how important it is for voters to READ IT ALL before voting on Ballot Question #1 in November:
“Going into the polls in November, it is important that voters read the entire amendment and see that it will have a grave effect on the abilities of Virginians to make life decisions regarding any type of contract they may want to enter into with anyone other than their spouse.”
The Falls Church News Press carried an editorial about the Council’s vote, “Historic Blow v. Discrimination.”
You’ll find the MP3 files, along with video and podcasts from the campaign trail, up on The Coalition’s webpage at www.voteNOva.org. Look for the button that says … On the Campaign Trail in the left hand column on the home page or click here.
Kenton Ngo, 750 Volts, has the new improved edition of his video blog up with a report from the We the People event on Sunday. Watch the video for inspiration and education!
Not Larry Sabato calls “Burning” the “best ad of the cycle so far.”
Barton Hinkle, conservative columnist for the Times Dispatch, has this to say about today’s McDonnell opinion on his blog:
as I’ve pointed out before (in the May 16 column, “Could a Judge Misinterpret the Marriage Amendment?”), the advocates of the amendment seem to have painted themselves into a logical corner.
If the threat to traditional marriage from activist judges is so dire that existing statutory language banning gay marriage is not sufficient, then what is to prevent those same (unidentified) activist judges from misinterpreting the marriage amendment and invalidating existing statutory language on other topics? Judges elsewhere have ruled that state marriage amendments invalidate the protections of spousal-abuse laws for unmarried persons, for instance.
McDonnell says he can “find no legal basis for the proposition that passage of the marriage amendment will limit or infringe upon the ordinary civil and legal rights of unmarried Virginians.” But what’s to stop an “activist judge” from doing so?
Good question? Answer… nothing!
The Current AG Issues “Advisory Opinion” re: so-called Marriage Amendment — Result? Dueling Legal Memos
The current Attorney General, who voted for the Marshall/Newman amendment while in the House of Delegates and has campaigned for its passage and raised money for proponents issued an opinion today saying all it does is define marriage. Of course he did.
Bottom line now is that there are dueling legal opinions out there. A 70 page memo, which is the result of more than 600 hours of legal work that has been endorsed by two former AGs and a former Republican candidate for Attorney General, and a 13 page legal opinion issued to the legislative patrons of the Marshall/Newman amendment by AG Bob McDonnell.
So, what’s a concerned voter to do? Vote NO.
Why would any voter vote to put language in our constitution that generates diametrically opposed legal opinions by lawyers and legal scholars?
Why would any voter vote to put language in our constitution that is sure to generate litigation over these opposing views?
Bob McDonnell said today that any constitutional amendment is followed by a period of legal uncertainty.
What he didn’t say is why voters should vote to invite such a period of uncertainty into their lives and businesses.
The AG offered NO reason today, compelling or otherwise, for making this major change in our constitution or for taking the legal risk that he is wrong and the more than 100 lawyers on the other side are right.
Voters should tell these folks that half-baked ideas don’t belong in our constitution. Voters should send Bob McDonnell a message and vote NO.
Lots of folks don’t know that George Mason isn’t just the mascot of a Northern Virginia university that made the NCAA final four … he’s the author of Virginia’s Declaration of Rights that became the Bill of Rights in our Virginia Constitution and was the model for Jefferson’s declaration of independence and the federal bill of rights!
Mason’s work became the first document of government in the world that gave individuals inalienable rights against the government! It’s Mason’s bill of rights that the Marshall/Newman amendment seeks to amend in Ballot Question #1 to take away rights from all unmarried individuals.
We the People PAC, a Coalition member organization, has been leading the charge to educate Virginia voters about our extraordinary constitutional history and the threat to our bill of rights.
Linda Monk, one of the founders of the We the People PAC had a great OpEd on point published in the Richmond Times Dispatch, A Higher Standard: Defending Virginia’s Declaration of Rights. After offering an important lesson about our history, she said:
Virginia has a higher standard, and a higher responsibility, when changing its cherished Declaration of Rights. As Virginians, we have a special duty to defend the core idea of constitutionalism: that our highest form of law should express fundamental rights, not become a referendum on the issues of the day.
In this, she clearly sounds her agreement with Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, who says voters should “Leave constitutions alone.”
You can join We the People PAC in celebrating and defending Virginia’s special constitutional history at an event at Gunston Hall on September 17th. Go to George Mason’s home, learn more about the Declaration of Rights, find out how you can help defend our bill of rights!
We the People PAC invites you to join Senator Toddy Puller, Del. Kris Amundson, Del. Adam Ebbin, Del. David Englin, Del. Dave Marsden, Del. David Poisson, Del. Mark Sickles, Congressional candidate Andrew Hurst (11th District), and other dignitaries at a rally to oppose the Marshall-Newman amendment at Gunston Hall on Sunday, September 17, at 3:30 p.m.
Please come with your family, view the exhibits, then join us at the picnic area for the rally. Admission fee of $8.00 is required.
Gunston Hall is the home of George Mason, the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. The Marshall-Newman Amendment would change Virginia’s historic bill of rights for the first time to take away rights, rather than protect them.
Letters to the editor in today’s Richmond Times Dispatch ….
Commentary, Judge Not; Rather, Understand by John W. Priddy, Salem physician from the Roanoke Times, September 8:
Opposition to the proposed marriage amendment against gay and civil unions in Virginia is not limited to “godless” liberals. An evangelical Christian and Baptist, once a young Republican, I join many believers who firmly oppose the amendment. This should give pause to those who crafted this amendment on political grounds; as such it is like a house built upon sand. Should it pass, it will surely one day be repealed, for we have learned well that fairness and justice ultimately prevail.
This is a bad amendment, denying our inalienable pursuit of happiness and certain legal and financial privileges to gays and those who elect civil union over marriage. The precedent is a threat to all Virginians. Who will be next?
People of faith can rally against the marriage amendment, because this is a straightforward civil rights issue. On this issue alone the amendment should never have passed committee. There were prophetic voices in opposition, but they were overpowered, and the course was set for the abuse of sacred Scripture and defamation of our constitution, all for the purpose of denying rights to Virginians. Now it is up to the fair-minded and reasonable to correct this course.
Voices from around Virginia, from different walks of life … united in saying NO.
In an oped that appeared in the Newport News Daily Press yesterday, the co-ministers of the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalist Church wrote that today they’ll plant a sign in their yard announcing their opposition to Ballot Question #1, the proposed Marshall/Newman amendment.
Why have they taken this very public step? Here’s what they said:
We have not stepped into this controversy simply to uphold abstract values. When we say “we,” we mean a church that includes gay people. The straight people and gay people in our church take care of one another – listening compassionately to stories of pain and loss, helping out when illness or other misfortune strikes, celebrating successes, worshipping together, raising families together, and building a church community together. We are neighbors in the particulars of daily existence. If your neighbors were attacked, would you turn away, or would you stand with them? How could love of your neighbor call for anything less?
In the present controversy, we ask ourselves, “who is our neighbor?” Our faith tradition gives us a clear, resounding answer: all people – with no one left out, no one belittled, no one cast outside the circle of blessing. We reach out to our gay brothers and sisters throughout Virginia as neighbors who are threatened by a law born of fear and hatred. And we reach out to you as neighbors, asking for your public declaration and your vote on November 7 – against the marriage amendment and in favor of values we can all embrace as sacred: the power of promising, the holiness of marriage, and the blessings that flow from loving our neighbors. Amen.
They are not alone … The Commonwealth Coalition has as its members a growing number of congregations and faith communities that have united around one word … that word is NO.
NO to writing discrimination into our founding document, the first in the world to protect individual rights against the government.
NO to authorizing further government intrusion into our faith traditions and our private lives.
NO to the intended and unintended consequences of this proposal for ALL unmarried Virginians.