Blogging the Amendment

Offering a Forum to Discuss the Pros and Cons of the Marshall/Newman Amendment

Virginians Deserve Better

Yesterday Lowell at Raising Kaine posted a diary where he shared the stories of several Virginians who were concerned that the possible passage of the Marshall/Newman Amendment – Ballot Question 1 – would drive good Virginians from the Commonwealth.


I know that Virginians are concerned that our leaders in the General Assembly have placed us on the wrong path.  I know that they are concerned for their futures, and I know that they are sad to see our Commonwealth consider the enactment of a law which will discriminate against their fellows, rather than include all of us as equals in society.


I’ve lived in Virginia nearly all my life.  I love this place, and my profession would make it difficult to move.  But damn, sometimes it’s tough.


I maintain because I know so many people of good will in this state – Republicans and Democrats – who understand that orientation has nothing to do with ability or worth.


I maintain because I know that this state’s history is unique in the nation. Virginia chartered America’s liberties, then worked most strongly to restrict them, and finally began the process to redeem itself by electing a leader from the ranks of the formerly disenfranchised.  Virginia is America.


I maintain because I know that even my opponents know that human rights will not be denied, and that love and aspirations cannot be contained.


People – friends of mine – have left Virginia since 2004 because of the relentless assault upon honest, hardworking, productive Virginians which has been perpetrated by the right wing cabal led by Bob Marshall, Steve Newman and Kathy Byron.  No Virginian sued to legalize same-sex marriage.  No Delegate or Senator introduced a bill to do so.  No judge ruled that it was possible.  And yet these ideologues chose to disparage productive Virginians and endanger the well-being and relationships of every unmarried citizen, all for political gain.


This makes me angry, but it doesn’t make me despair.  I know that this amendment will fail because Virginians – a conservative people – do not want government to interfere in their families.


I know this amendment will fail because Virginians – a proud people – do not want to stain their Bill of Rights with a statement of intolerance.


And, I know this amendment will fail because we – true Virginians – have had enough.  We’re going to make certain that we do all we can to get our voters to the polls on November 7, to vote down this mean-spirited and harmful amendment.


Vote No.  Vote No for yourself, and Vote No for your fellow Virginians.  We all deserve nothing less.


October 22, 2006 Posted by | discrimination, limited government, Marriage equality, politics of marriage, straight couples | 1 Comment

Republican Urges Republicans to Vote NO and Send a Message

Ray Warren, former NC legislator and judge, wrote Sunday in the Washington Post Outlook section that on November 7th, Republicans have “a  rare opportunity to challenge the party’s religious extremists without supporting a Democrat .” 

And how can Republicans do that?

Simple, stick with traditional Republican values like limited government and free enterprise and vote NO.

October 16, 2006 Posted by | economic impact, limited government | 19 Comments

Another Republican Stands Up and Says Vote NO!

M. Caldwell Butler

Former Republican Congressman from the 6th Congressional District and former Minority Leader of the House of Delegates

Amendment Doesn’t Belong in Virginia’s Bill of Rights

Don’t need to say much more than that … but here’s some more of what he said in an OpEd published in the Roanoke Times today:

Every voter at the polls on Nov. 7 will be provided with an “explanation.” The last paragraph of the “Explanation” of “Ballot Question Number 1” reads:

“A ‘yes’ vote on the proposed amendment will result in the addition of the proposed section 15A to Article I, the Bill of Rights. A ‘no’ vote will mean that there will be no changes made in Article I, the Bill of Rights.”

If a voter is considering a “yes” vote and determined to make this language a part of the Bill of Rights, he or she might inquire: “What right is created?” Certainly, no right is created in the first paragraph of the proposal, which reads: “That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid or recognized by this Commonwealth.”

Clearly, this is not a right. It is going the other way and the wrong way!

Simply stated, the proposed language (which is mean-spirited, unwarranted, poorly drafted and already in the code itself) does not belong in the constitution of Virginia, and certainly nowhere in our Bill of Rights.

Vote “no” on Proposed Amendment No. 1 to the constitution of Virginia.

October 12, 2006 Posted by | discrimination, legislative history, limited government, politics of marriage | Leave a comment

Kenton Ngo Has Video from We the People Event

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!

September 20, 2006 Posted by | end of life decisions, limited government, politics of marriage, unintended consequences | 1 Comment

Celebrating and Defending Virginia’s Constitutional History

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!

Details follow:

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. 

September 13, 2006 Posted by | limited government, politics of marriage, straight couples, unintended consequences | 2 Comments

Lawyers, Lawyers Everywhere … Red Herrings and Other Smelly Fish

More than 100 attorneys and legal scholars from around Virginia have joined the Virginia Legal Review Committee to express concern about the “significant and largely unpredictable legal consequences” of Ballot Question #1, the proposed amendment to the Virginia Bill of Rights that will be before the voters on NOvember 7th.

Among the attorneys and legal scholars, who, as of September 7, 2006, have given permission for their names to be included on a growing list of those concerned about the legal consequences of the so-called marriage amendment, are former Attorneys General Stephen D. Rosenthal and Anthony F. Troy and former Republican candidate for Attorney General Wyatt B. Durette. 

Also included are former Virginia Secretary of Education during the Wilder Administration, The Honorable James W. Dyke and former Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade, The Honorable Michael J. Schewel.

Arguing that voters shouldn’t be concerned about any of this are representatives from the Attorney General’s office who dismiss concerns about the “unintended consequences” of the amendment that will be Ballot Question #1 as nothing more than a “red herring.” See stories here and here

Of course, the Attorney General is an active advocate and fundraiser for amendment proponents; that kind of undercuts the reliability of any opinion issued from his office, doesn’t it? If there’s a smelly fish somewhere, one can argue that it’s the insistence of his office that it can offer “neutral” explanations of the amendment while the boss is out playing the active advocate for one side of the constitutional argument.

But the real bottom line for voters here is that, where no one can agree, everyone should vote NO…

At best, what we have here is reasonable lawyers arguing credibly very different views of what the proposed Marshall/Newman amendment will do and what legal consequences the amendment will have for straight couples and unmarried domestic violence victims. 

As a thinking voter, shouldn’t you think twice about voting for anything that generates this much legal conflict? 

Would you sign a contract that included language that no lawyer could explain with confidence? or about which seasoned and credible lawyers are arguing?

Why, then, would you think about voting for an amendment to Virginia’s constitution that has hundreds of lawyers saying they don’t know what it means or what it will do?

And, then there’s the simple beauty of Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson’s admonition to voters …. “Leave Constitutions alone.”


Rick Sincere has posted a comment about lawyers and legal opinions.

September 8, 2006 Posted by | limited government, politics of marriage, unintended consequences | Leave a comment

Monk from Coalition Partner We The People Speaks Out

Linda Monk from Coalition member organization, We the People PAC, had an OpEd on amending the constitution published Monday in the RTD. 

Writing in A Higher Standard: Defending Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, Professor Monk argues that voters must set a high standard for approving any amendment to George Mason’s Declaration of Rights.  Pointing out that Virginia was the first governing body in the world to adopt a statement recognizing and protecting individual rights, Professor Monk says:

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.

Monk concludes that recent polls confirming voters’ hesitancy to vote to amend the bill of rights shows their good sense.

Equality Loudoun has a good post on Linda’s piece.

August 8, 2006 Posted by | discrimination, limited government | Leave a comment

Bearing Drift is Asking a Good Question

Bearing Drift asks “So, Exactly How Is This ‘Limited’ Government?” James Atticus Bowden responds with arguments about the history of marriage and government as institutions and the influence of Liberal Secular Humanists in the definition of “cultural consensus.”

What do you think?  Is the proposed marriage amendment an example of “limited government”?  Is there a compelling reason for government to limit the benefits of government defined unions to “marriages” between one man and one woman?  Why shouldn’t America adopt the English and French tradition of a civil marriage/union and a separate religious sacrament?

June 30, 2006 Posted by | limited government | 10 Comments

The Amendment in the Blogosphere

There are some very smart folks out there in the blogosphere. 

NoVATownhall has two long and well argued threads with good commentary (pro and con) about the Marshall/Newman amendment here and here.

I particularly enjoyed being reminded of this quote from Alexis de Tocqueville:

 In Alexis de Tocqeville’s Democracy in America in Chapter 16: Causes Which Mitigate the Tyranny of the Majority in the United States he writes: “I am aware that a secret tendency to diminish the judicial power exists in the United States….by thus lessening the independence of the judiciary they have attacked not only the judicial power, but the democratic republic itself.”
[p.s.,If you can find this in the long thread, I’ll know that you really read all of the comments.]

Equality Loudoun, one of The Coalition’s partner organizations, continues some of the discussion here.

Keep up the good work!

June 27, 2006 Posted by | activist judges, children, domestic violence, limited government, politics of marriage, Traditional marriage | 9 Comments