Monday, May 14, 2012

GOP kills civil unions in Colorado special session

updated 20 minutes ago
A last-ditch effort by Colorado's governor to give gay couples in the state rights similar to married couples failed Monday after Republicans rejected the proposal during a special legislative session. 

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper had said the special session was needed to address a "fundamental question of fairness and civil rights."

The bill's demise was expected by Democrats, who have begun using the issue as a rallying cry to topple Republicans in the November elections. Republicans assigned the bill to House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, which was likely to reject it. The panel voted 5-4 along party lines to kill the measure.

"The gay community is being used as a political pawn," said Republican Rep. Don Coram, whose son is gay. Coram voted against the measure.

Rep. Mark Ferrandino, the Democrats' leader in the House and gay lawmaker co-sponsoring civil unions, sounded a note of optimism before the committee hearing, even as he braced for the bill's rejection.

"If it fails this year, we're going to work hard to make sure the public understands what happened, the games that were played, and next we're going to push it again," he said. "And as I've said a number of times, it's not a matter of 'if,' it's a matter of 'when.' And the 'when' keeps getting sooner and sooner. This will happen."

House Republicans hold a 33-32 voting advantage, but there was enough support for civil unions to pass.
Last week, Democrats tried to force Republicans who control the calendar to bring up the bill for debate. But it became clear Republicans were filibustering by unnecessarily talking at length about other bills.

Republicans then halted work for hours, killing the bill and several others that needed a vote before a key deadline.

"Transparency, accountability and the virtues of good government are compromised when the legislative clock is used to avoid consideration of important legislation," the governor said in a letter to lawmakers before the special session started.

The regular session adjourned Wednesday, the same day an emotional Hickenlooper announced his intent to call a special session over civil unions and other bills that died because of the GOP filibuster.

More than a dozen states allow either gay marriage or civil unions, including several that moved to pass such laws this year.

The debate in Colorado is playing out at a time when President Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to publicly endorse gay marriage. But North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment that bars civil unions and defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

Earlier Monday, hundreds of supporters wearing red and waving signs greeted lawmakers returning to Denver for the special session.

Many of the gay-rights activists predicted the bill's demise. They urged Democrats to make the civil unions failure a rallying point for November.

"For too long Democrats have let the right corner the market no talking about values. Finally we've claimed the moral high ground, and we can talk about that," said activist Wiley Sherer, who was selling buttons that read, "Ignorance is forgivable. Pride in ignorance never is."

Undeterred by the civil unions delay, Sherer said, "It's going to happen eventually. I mean, there's no way in 10 years we don't have nationwide marriage equality."

Conservatives, who argue civil unions undermine traditional marriage, portrayed the special session as a waste of taxpayer money. As they have before, Republicans described the measure as a proposal for gay marriage, rather than civil unions.

Civil unions would grant gay couples rights similar to married couples, including letting partners make medical decisions for each other. The protections also would enhance parental and inheritance rights.

Explainer: Why 60 percent of NC Voters Didn't Understand Amendment One

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

On Tuesday voters in North Carolina voted in huge numbers to ban same-sex marriage. And yet, 60 percent don't fully understand what the legislation they voted on actually does.
Amendment One changes the state constitution "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." 

In practice, that means not only a ban on same-sex marriage, which North Carolina already has in place, but a ban on any form of civil union for same-sex couples.

However, a recent survey from Public Policy Polling finds that only 40 percent of voters in the state interpret the law correctly.

Asked what a "yes" vote on Amendment One means,
  •  27 percent said it meant a ban on gay marriage alone.  
  •  26 percent of respondents said they were not sure what the legislation did. 
  •    7 percent got it totally backwards, saying they thought a "yes" vote would legalize gay marriage.

Altogether, that's 60 percent of voters in the state who don't understand Amendment One.

"That's not a huge surprise," says Annetta Cheek, Chair of the Center for Plain Language, a non-profit that works to make government communicate more clearly with citizens. "I'm actually surprised 40 percent might have understood it."

Cheek said the vast majority of legislation goes misunderstood by the voting public. "Frankly, every time I have to vote on something locally, it's very hard to understand what I'm voting on."

Why is the North Carolina law so confusing? For starters, North Carolinians are sort of voting on a double negative here:
A "yes" on the legislation means a "no" for same-sex unions. (One can understand why 7 percent of voters may have thought a "yes" vote meant "yes" for same-sex unions.)

Another source of confusion could be that the amendment never mentions "same-sex" couples or "civil unions" specifically; these are the terms in which people normally talk about gay marriage. Instead, the legislation reads:

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.

Whew. Still with us?

Annetta Cheek points to the second sentence as a source of major confusion. "The first sentence uses 'union' and the next sentence uses 'contract,'" Cheek said. "The authors meant them to be the same kind of legal arrangement. But by using two different words, they lead many readers to wonder whether they mean two different sorts of things entirely."

Bringing up undefined contracts in the middle a bill about same-sex unions, even if they're supposed to mean the same or similar things, adds unnecessary complexity to what should be a simple statement banning certain behavior.

"They would have been far better off to put this in a separate section," Cheek said. "That way people would not be as inclined to read it as a modification of the original statement — although it would still likely cause some confusion because it uses typical legalistic language and jargon."

The confusion in North Carolina may have had a major impact on the fate of the legislation.

Public Policy Polling found that before Tuesday's vote, 55 percent of North Carolinians planned to vote "yes" on Amendment One, while 41 percent would vote "no." That's 55 percent voting against gay marriage or civil unions.

But PPP also found that 55 percent of voters "support some form of legal recognition for gay couples in the form of either marriage or civil unions." In theory, that means the first numbers should be reversed: 55 percent should have planned to vote "no" on Amendment One — and for some form of civil unions — not the other way around.

But that's not what happened. On Tuesday, Amendment One passed with 61 percent of the vote.

Obama: Gay marriage 'doesn't weaken families, it strengthens families'

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Speaking at an event for the first time since announcing his support for same-sex marriage, President Obama said his position was part of his campaign philosophy, rooted, he said, in “the basic idea that I want everybody treated fairly in this country.”
“So much of this has to do with a belief that not only are we all in this together but all of us are equal in terms of dignity, in terms of respect,” the president said to the cheers of 200 people -- including singer Ricky Martin and actress Eva Longoria -- at the Rubin Museum of Art in downtown New York City.
Consistent with that belief, Obama continued, “the announcement I made last week about my views on marriage equality.”
“We have never gone wrong when we expanded rights and responsibilities to everybody,” he said. “That doesn't weaken families, it strengthens families.”
The event was co-hosted by Martin, the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Leadership Council and the Futuro Fund, a Latino get-out-the-vote organization affiliated with the Obama campaign.
Obama also seemed to turn a word commonly associated with conservative social issues – “values” – on its head, saying that he too believes “values” are a key factor in this election.
“It's been said that this election is going to be about values and I absolutely agree,” he said. “It's about the economic values we have, the values that I believe are what makes America so special.”
While this appearance was more about framing his own policies than those of his opponents, the president did seek to define Mitt Romney as an empty vessel of Congressional Republicans, contrasting him with his 2008 presidential opponent John McCain whom he suggested was a more independent thinker.
“We've got a very clear contrast this time. John McCain believed in climate change and believed in immigration reform. On some issues there was a sense of independence. What we've got this time out is a candidate who said he’d basically rubber-stamp a Republican Congress who wants us to go backwards and not forwards on a whole range of issues.”
Obama urged his LGBT supporters to stay active, warning them against what he called the outsized influence of outside spending groups who have a simple but powerful message.
“Their message is simple: You're frustrated, you're angry and it's Obama’s fault,” he said.

An actual copy of North Carolina’s marriage amendment

May 9, 2012

Oh, did you think I meant the one from earlier this week? Sorry for the confusion…

Article 14, Section 8 was adopted during the Constitutional Convention of 1875. The amendment, outlawing interracial marriage, remained a part of the North Carolina Constitution until 1971, when a new state constitution was adopted.

In 1977 the General Assembly passed a law validating all interracial marriages that occurred prior to March 24, 1977, the date of the law’s passage.

§ 51‑3.1.  Interracial marriages validated.
All interracial marriages that were declared void by statute or a court of competent jurisdiction prior to March 24, 1977, are hereby validated. The parties to such interracial marriages are deemed to be lawfully married, provided that the provisions of this Chapter have been complied with.

 The New State Constitution of NC adopted in 1977, with the Marriage General Provisions

Chapter 51.
Article 1.
General Provisions.
§ 51‑1.  Requisites of marriage; solemnization.
A valid and sufficient marriage is created by the consent of a male and female person who may lawfully marry, presently to take each other as husband and wife, freely, seriously and plainly expressed by each in the presence of the other, either:
(1)       a.         In the presence of an ordained minister of any religious denomination, a minister authorized by a church, or a magistrate; and
b.         With the consequent declaration by the minister or magistrate that the persons are husband and wife; or
(2)        In accordance with any mode of solemnization recognized by any religious denomination, or federally or State recognized Indian Nation or Tribe.
Marriages solemnized before March 9, 1909, by ministers of the gospel licensed, but not ordained, are validated from their consummation.  (1871‑2, c. 193, s. 3; Code, s. 1812; Rev., s. 2081; 1908, c. 47; 1909, c. 704, s. 2; c. 897; C.S., s. 2493; 1945, c. 839; 1965, c. 152; 1971, c. 1185, s. 26; 1977, c. 592, s. 1; 2000‑58, ss. 1, 2; 2001‑14, ss. 1, 2; 2001‑62, ss. 1, 17; 2002‑115, ss. 5, 6; 2002‑159, s. 13(a); 2003‑4, s. 1; 2005‑56, s. 1; 2007‑61, s. 1; 2009‑13, s. 1.)

§ 51‑1.1.  Certain marriages performed by ministers of Universal Life Church validated.
Any marriages performed by ministers of the Universal Life  Church prior to July 3, 1981, are validated, unless they have been invalidated by a court of competent jurisdiction, provided that all other requirements of law have been met and the marriages would have been valid if performed by an official authorized by law to perform wedding ceremonies. (1981, c. 797.)

§ 51‑1.2.  Marriages between persons of the same gender not valid.
Marriages, whether created by common law, contracted, or performed outside of North Carolina, between individuals of the same gender are not valid in North Carolina. (1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 588, s. 1.)

§ 51‑2.  Capacity to marry.
(a)        All unmarried persons of 18 years, or older, may lawfully marry, except as hereinafter forbidden.
(a1)      Persons over 16 years of age and under 18 years of age may marry, and the register of deeds may issue a license for the marriage, only after there shall have been filed with the register of deeds a written consent to the marriage, said consent having been signed by the appropriate person as follows:
(1)        By a parent having full or joint legal custody of the underage party; or
(2)        By a person, agency, or institution having legal custody or serving as a guardian of the underage party.
Such written consent shall not be required for an emancipated minor if a certificate of emancipation issued pursuant to Article 35 of Chapter 7B of the General Statutes or a certified copy of a final decree or certificate of emancipation from this or any other jurisdiction is filed with the register of deeds.
(b)        Persons over 14 years of age and under 16 years of age may marry as provided in G.S. 51‑2.1.
(b1)      It shall be unlawful for any person under 14 years of age to marry.
(c)        When a license to marry is procured by any person under 18 years of age by fraud or misrepresentation, a parent of the underage party, a person, agency, or institution having legal custody or serving as a guardian of the underage party, or a guardian ad litem appointed to represent the underage party pursuant to G.S. 51‑2.1(b) is a proper party to bring an action to annul the marriage. (R.C., c. 68, s. 14; 1871‑2, c. 193; Code, s. 1809; Rev., s. 2082; C.S., s. 2494; 1923, c. 75; 1933, c. 269, s. 1; 1939, c. 375; 1947, c. 383, s. 2; 1961, c. 186; 1967, c. 957, s. 1; 1969, c. 982; 1985, c. 608; 1998‑202, s. 13(s); 2001‑62, s. 2; 2001‑487, s. 60.)

§ 51‑2.1.  Marriage of certain underage parties.
(a)        If an unmarried female who is more than 14 years of age, but less than 16 years of age, is pregnant or has given birth to a child and the unmarried female and the putative father of the child, either born or unborn, agree to marry, or if an unmarried male who is more than 14 years of age, but less than 16 years of age, is the putative father of a child, either born or unborn, and the unmarried male and the mother of the child agree to marry, the register of deeds is authorized to issue to the parties a license to marry; and it shall be lawful for them to marry in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter, only after a certified copy of an order issued by a district court authorizing the marriage is filed with the register of deeds. A district court judge may issue an order authorizing a marriage under this section only upon finding as fact and concluding as a matter of law that the underage party is capable of assuming the responsibilities of marriage and the marriage will serve the best interest of the underage party. In determining whether the marriage will serve the best interest of an underage party, the district court shall consider the following:
(1)        The opinion of the parents of the underage party as to whether the marriage serves the best interest of the underage party.
(2)        The opinion of any person, agency, or institution having legal custody or serving as a guardian of the underage party as to whether the marriage serves the best interest of the underage party.
(3)        The opinion of the guardian ad litem appointed to represent the best interest of the underage party pursuant to G.S. 51‑2.1(b) as to whether the marriage serves the best interest of the underage party.
(4)        The relationship between the underage party and the parents of the underage party, as well as the relationship between the underage party and any person having legal custody or serving as a guardian of the underage party.
(5)        Any evidence that it would find useful in making its determination.
There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the marriage will not serve the best interest of the underage party when all living parents of the underage party oppose the marriage. The fact that the female is pregnant, or has given birth to a child, alone does not establish that the best interest of the underage party will be served by the marriage.
(b)        An underage party seeking an order granting judicial authorization to marry pursuant to this section shall file a civil action in the district court requesting judicial authorization to marry. The clerk shall collect court costs from the underage party in the amount set forth in G.S. 7A‑305 for civil actions in district court. Upon the filing of the complaint, summons shall be issued in accordance with G.S. 1A‑1, Rule 4, and the underage party shall be appointed a guardian ad litem in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 1A‑1, Rule 17. The guardian ad litem appointed shall be an attorney and shall be governed by the provisions of subsection (d) of this section. The underage party shall serve a copy of the summons and complaint, in accordance with G.S. 1A‑1, Rule 4, on the father of the underage party; the mother of the underage party; and any person, agency, or institution having legal custody or serving as a guardian of the underage party. The underage party also shall serve a copy of the complaint, either in accordance with G.S. 1A‑1, Rule 4, or G.S. 1A‑1, Rule 5, on the guardian ad litem appointed pursuant to this section. A party responding to the underage party's complaint shall serve his response within 30 days after service of the summons and complaint upon that person. The underage party may participate in the proceedings before the court on his or her own behalf. At the hearing conducted pursuant to this section, the court shall consider evidence, as provided in subsection (a) of this section, and shall make written findings of fact and conclusions of law.
(c)        Any party to a proceeding under this section may be represented by counsel, but no party is entitled to appointed counsel, except as provided in this section.
(d)       The guardian ad litem appointed pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall represent the best interest of the underage party in all proceedings under this section and also has standing to institute an action under G.S. 51‑2(c). The appointment shall terminate when the last judicial ruling rendering the authorization granted or denied is entered. Payment of the guardian ad litem shall be governed by G.S. 7A‑451(f). The guardian ad litem shall make an investigation to determine the facts, the needs of the underage party, the available resources within the family and community to meet those needs, the impact of the marriage on the underage party, and the ability of the underage party to assume the responsibilities of marriage; facilitate, when appropriate, the settlement of disputed issues; offer evidence and examine witnesses at the hearing; and protect and promote the best interest of the underage party. In fulfilling the guardian ad litem's duties, the guardian ad litem shall assess and consider the emotional development, maturity, intellect, and understanding of the underage party. The guardian ad litem has the authority to obtain any information or reports, whether or not confidential, that the guardian ad litem deems relevant to the case. No privilege other than attorney‑client privilege may be invoked to prevent the guardian ad litem and the court from obtaining such information. The confidentiality of the information or reports shall be respected by the guardian ad litem, and no disclosure of any information or reports shall be made to anyone except by order of the court or unless otherwise provided by law.
(e)        If the last judicial ruling in this proceeding denies the underage party judicial authorization to marry, the underage party shall not seek the authorization of any court again under this section until after one year from the date of the entry of the last judicial ruling rendering the authorization denied.
(f)        Except as otherwise provided in this section, the rules of evidence in civil cases shall apply to proceedings under this section. All hearings pursuant to this section shall be recorded by stenographic notes or by electronic or mechanical means. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no appeal of right lies from an order or judgment entered pursuant to this section. (2001‑62, s. 3.)

§ 51‑2.2.  Parent includes adoptive parent.
As used in this Article, the terms "parent", "father", or "mother" includes one who has become a parent, father, or mother, respectively, by adoption. (2001‑62, s. 4.)

§ 51‑3.  Want of capacity; void and voidable marriages.
All marriages between any two persons nearer of kin than first cousins, or between double first cousins, or between a male person under 16 years of age and any female, or between a female person under 16 years of age and any male, or between persons either of whom has a husband or wife living at the time of such marriage, or  between persons either of whom is at the time physically impotent, or between persons either of whom is at the time incapable of contracting from want of will or understanding, shall be void. No marriage followed by cohabitation and the birth of issue shall be declared void after the death of either of the parties for any of the causes stated in this section except for bigamy. No marriage by persons either of whom may be under 16 years of age, and otherwise competent to marry, shall be declared void when the girl shall be pregnant, or when a child shall have been born to the parties unless such child at the time of the action to annul shall be dead. A marriage contracted under a representation and belief that the female partner to the marriage is pregnant, followed by the separation of the parties within 45 days of the marriage which separation has been continuous for a period of one year, shall be voidable unless a child shall have been born to the parties within 10 lunar months of the date of separation. (R.C., c. 68, ss. 7, 8, 9; 1871‑2, c. 193, s. 2; Code, s. 1810; 1887, c. 245; Rev., s. 2083; 1911, c. 215, s. 2; 1913, c. 123; 1917, c. 135; C.S., s. 2495; 1947, c. 383, s. 3; 1949, c. 1022; 1953, c. 1105; 1961, c. 367; 1977, c. 107, s. 1.)

§ 51‑3.1.  Interracial marriages validated.
All interracial marriages that were declared void by statute or a court of competent jurisdiction prior to March 24, 1977, are hereby validated. The parties to such interracial marriages are deemed to be lawfully married, provided that the provisions of this Chapter have been complied with. (1977, c. 107, s. 2.)

§ 51‑3.2.  Marriage licensed and solemnized by a federally recognized Indian Nation or Tribe.
(a)        Subject to the restriction provided in subsection (b), a marriage between a man and a woman licensed and solemnized according to the law of a federally recognized Indian Nation or Tribe shall be valid and the parties to the marriage shall be lawfully married.
(b)        When the law of a federally recognized Indian Nation or Tribe allows persons to obtain a marriage license from the register of deeds and the parties to a marriage do so, Chapter 51 of the General Statutes shall apply and the marriage shall be valid only if the issuance of the license and the solemnization of the marriage is conducted in compliance with this Chapter. (2001‑62, s. 5.)

§ 51‑4.  Prohibited degrees of kinship.
When the degree of kinship is estimated with a view to ascertain the right of kinspeople to marry, the half‑blood shall be counted as the whole‑blood: Provided, that nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to invalidate any marriage heretofore contracted in case where by counting the half‑blood as the whole‑blood the persons contracting such marriage would be nearer of kin than first cousins; but in every such case the kinship shall be ascertained by counting relations of the half‑blood as being only half so near kin as those of the same degree of the whole‑blood (1879, c. 78; Code, s. 1811; Rev., s. 2084; C.S., s. 2496.)

§ 51‑5.  Marriages between slaves validated.
Persons, both or one of whom were formerly slaves, who have complied with the provisions of section five, Chapter 40, of the acts  of the General Assembly, ratified March 10, 1866, shall be deemed to have been lawfully married. (1866, c. 40, s. 5; Code, s. 1842; Rev., s. 2085; C.S., s. 2497.)

Article 2.

Marriage Licenses.

§ 51-6. Solemnization without license unlawful.
No minister, officer, or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage under the laws of this State shall perform a ceremony of marriage between a man and woman, or shall declare them to be husband and wife, until there is delivered to that person a license for the marriage of the said persons, signed by the register of deeds of the county in which the marriage license was issued or by a lawful deputy or assistant. There must be at least two witnesses to the marriage ceremony.

Whenever a man and woman have been lawfully married in accordance with the laws of the state in which the marriage ceremony took place, and said marriage was performed by a magistrate or some other civil official duly authorized to perform such ceremony, and the parties thereafter wish to confirm their marriage vows before an ordained minister or minister authorized by a church, or in a ceremony recognized by any religious denomination, federally or State recognized Indian Nation or Tribe, nothing herein shall be deemed to prohibit such confirmation ceremony; provided, however, that such confirmation ceremony shall not be deemed in law to be a marriage ceremony, such confirmation ceremony shall in no way affect the validity or invalidity of the prior marriage ceremony performed by a civil official, no license for such confirmation ceremony shall be issued by a register of deeds, and no record of such confirmation ceremony may be kept by a register of deeds. (1871-2, c. 193, s. 4; Code, s. 1813; Rev., s. 2086; C.S., s. 2498; 1957, c. 1261; 1959, c. 338; 1967, c. 957, ss. 6, 9; 1977, c. 592, s. 2; 2001-62, s. 6.)

§ 51-7. Penalty for solemnizing without license.
Every minister, officer, or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage under the laws of this State, who marries any couple without a license being first delivered to that person, as required by law, or after the expiration of such license, or who fails to return such license to the register of deeds within 10 days after any marriage celebrated by virtue thereof, with the certificate appended thereto duly filled up and signed, shall forfeit and pay two hundred dollars ($200.00) to any person who sues therefore, and shall also be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (R.C., c. 68, ss. 6, 13; 1871-2, c. 193, s. 8; Code, s. 1817; Rev., ss. 2087, 3372; C.S., s. 2499; 1953, c. 638, s. 1; 1967, c. 957, s. 5; 1993, c. 539, s. 415; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2001-62, s. 7.)

§ 51-8. License issued by register of deeds.
Every register of deeds shall, upon proper application, issue a license for the marriage of any two persons who are able to answer the questions regarding age, marital status, and intention to marry, and, based on the answers, the register of deeds determines the persons are authorized to be married in accordance with the laws of this State. In making a determination as to whether or not the parties are authorized to be married under the laws of this State, the register of deeds may require the applicants for the license to marry to present certified copies of birth certificates or such other evidence as the register of deeds deems necessary to the determination. The register of deeds may administer an oath to any person presenting evidence relating to whether or not parties applying for a marriage license are eligible to be married pursuant to the laws of this State. Each applicant for a marriage license shall provide on the application the applicant's social security number. If an applicant does not have a social security number and is ineligible to obtain one, the applicant shall present a statement to that effect, sworn to or affirmed before an officer authorized to administer oaths. Upon presentation of a sworn or affirmed statement, the register of deeds shall issue the license, provided all other requirements are met, and retain the statement with the register's copy of the license. The register of deeds shall not issue a marriage license unless all of the requirements of this section have been met. (1871-2, c. 193, s. 5; Code, s. 1814; 1887, c. 331; Rev., s. 2088; C.S., s. 2500; 1957, c. 506, s. 1; 1967, c. 957, s. 2; 1997-433, s. 4.5; 1998-17, s. 1; 1999-375, s. 1; 2001-62, s. 8; 2002-159, s. 14.)

§ 51-8.1. Repealed by Session Laws 1967, c. 53.

§ 51-8.2. Issuance of marriage license when applicant is unable to appear.

If an applicant for a marriage license is over 18 years of age and is unable to appear in person at the register of deeds' office, the other party to the planned marriage must appear in person on behalf of the applicant and submit a sworn and notarized affidavit in lieu of the absent applicant's personal appearance.

The affidavit shall be in the following or some equivalent form:

__________, [applicant] appearing before the undersigned notary and being duly sworn, says that:

1. I, __________, [applicant's name] am applying for a license in _______ County, North Carolina, to marry _______ [name of other applicant] in North Carolina within the next 60 days and I am authorized under G.S. 51-8.2 to complete this Affidavit in Lieu of Personal Appearance for Marriage License Application.

I attach: (1) documentation that I am over 18 years of age as required in county of issuance; and
(2) documentation of divorce as required by county of issuance.

§§ 51-9 through 51-11: Repealed by Session Laws 1994, c. 647, ss. 1-3.

§ 51-12: Repealed by Session Laws 1985, c. 589, s. 27.

§ 51-13: Repealed by Session Laws 1994, c. 647, s. 4.

§ 51-14. Repealed by Session Laws 1967, c. 957, s. 3.

§ 51-15. Obtaining license by false representation misdemeanor.
If any person shall obtain, or aid and abet in obtaining, a marriage license by misrepresentation or false pretenses, that person shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (1885, c. 346; Rev., s. 3371; C.S., s. 2501; 1967, c. 957, s. 4; 1993, c. 539, s. 417; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2001-62, s. 10.)

§ 51-16. Form of license.

License shall be in the following or some equivalent form:
To any ordained minister of any religious denomination, minister authorized by a church, any magistrate, or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage under the laws of this State: A.B. having applied to me for a license for the marriage of C.D. (the name of the man to be written in full) of (here state his residence), aged ____ years (race, as the case may be), the son of (here state the father and mother, if known; state whether they are living or dead, and their residence, if known; if any of these facts are not known, so state), and E.F. (write the name of the woman in full) of (here state her residence), aged ____ years (race, as the case may be), the daughter of (here state names and residences of the parents, if known, as is required above with respect to the man). (If either of the parties is under 18 years of age, the license shall here contain the following:) And the written consent of G.H., father (or mother, etc., as the case may be) to the proposed marriage having been filed with me, and there being no legal impediment to such marriage known to me, you are hereby authorized, at any time within 60 days from the date hereof, to celebrate the proposed marriage at any place within the State. You are required within 10 days after you shall have celebrated such marriage, to return this license to me at my office with your signature subscribed to the certificate under this license, and with the blanks therein filled according to the facts, under penalty of forfeiting two hundred dollars ($200.00) to the use of any person who shall sue for the same.

Issued this ____ day of ____, ____

____________________ L.M.

Register of Deeds of ____ County

Every register of deeds shall, at the request of an applicant, designate in a marriage license issued the race of the persons proposing to marry by inserting in the blank after the word "race" the words "white," "black," "African-American," "American Indian," "Alaska Native," "Asian Indian," "Chinese," "Filipino," "Japanese," "Korean," "Vietnamese," "Other Asian," "Native Hawaiian," "Guamarian," "Chamorro," "Samoan," "Other Pacific Islander," "Mexican," "Mexican-American," "Chicano," "Puerto Rican," "Cuban," "Other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino," or "other," as the case may be. The certificate shall be filled out and signed by the minister, officer, or other authorized individual celebrating the marriage, and also be signed by two witnesses present at the marriage, who shall add to their names their place of residence, as follows:

I, N.O., an ordained or authorized minister or other authorized individual of (here state to what religious denomination, or magistrate, as the case may be), united in matrimony (here name the parties), the parties licensed above, on the ___ day of ______, ___, at the house of P.R., in (here name the town, if any, the township and county), according to law.

________________ N.O.

Witness present at the marriage:

S.T., of (here give residence).

(1871-2, c. 193, s. 6; Code, s. 1815; 1899, c. 541, ss. 1, 2; Rev., s. 2089; 1909, c. 704, s. 3; 1917, c. 38; C.S., s. 2502; 1953, c. 638, s. 2; 1967, c. 957, s. 7; 1971, c. 1072; c. 1185, s. 27; 1999-456, s. 59; 2001-62, s. 11.)

§ 51-16.1. Form of license for Address Confidentiality Program participant.

If a person submits to the local register of deeds a current and valid Address Confidentiality Program authorization card issued pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 15C of the General Statutes, the local register of deeds shall use the substitute address designated by the Address Confidentiality Program when creating a new marriage license. (2002-171, s. 3.)

§ 51-17. Penalty for issuing license unlawfully.
Every register of deeds who knowingly or without reasonable inquiry, personally or by deputy, issues a license for the marriage of any two persons to which there is any lawful impediment, or where either of the persons is under the age of 18 years, without the consent required by law, shall forfeit and pay two hundred dollars ($200.00) to any parent, guardian, or other person standing in loco parentis, who sues for the same: Provided, that requiring a party to a proposed marriage to present a certified copy of his or her birth certificate, or a certified copy of his or her birth record in the form of a birth registration card as provided in G.S. 130-102, in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 51-8, shall be considered a reasonable inquiry into the matter of the age of such party. (R.C., c. 68, s. 13; 1871-2, c. 193, s. 7; Code, s. 1816; 1895, c. 387; 1901, c. 722; Rev., s. 2090; C.S., s. 2503; 1957, c. 506, s. 2.)

§ 51-18. Record of licenses and returns; originals filed.
The register of deeds shall maintain a separate index for marriage licenses and returns thereto. Each marriage license shall be indexed alphabetically according to the name of the proposed husband and proposed wife. Each index entry shall include, but not be limited to, the full name of the intended husband and wife, the date the marriage ceremony was performed, and the location of the original license and the return thereon. The original license and return shall be filed and preserved. (1871-2, c. 193, s. 9; Code, s. 1818; 1899, c. 541, s. 3; Rev., s. 2091; C.S., s. 2504; 1963, c. 429; 1967, c. 957, s. 8; 1979, c. 636, s. 1; 1983, c. 699, s. 2.)

§ 51-18.1. Correction of errors in application or license; amendment of names in application or license.
(a) When it shall appear to the register of deeds of any county in this State that information is incorrectly stated on an application for a marriage license, or upon a marriage license issued thereunder, or upon a return or certificate of an officiating officer, the register of deeds is authorized to correct such record or records upon being furnished with an affidavit signed by one or both of the applicants for the marriage license, accompanied by affidavits of at least two other persons who know the correct information.

(b) When the name of a party to a marriage has been changed by court order as a result of a legitimation action or other cause of action, and the party whose name is changed presents a signed affidavit to the register of deeds indicating the name change and requesting that the application for a marriage license, the marriage license, and the marriage certificate of the officiating officer be amended by substituting the changed name for the original name, the register of deeds may amend the records as requested by the party, provided the other party named in the records consents to the amendment. (1953, c. 797; 1959, c. 344; 1987, c. 576; 2001-62, s. 12.)

§ 51-19. Penalty for failure to record.
Any register of deeds who fails to record, in the manner above prescribed, the substance of any marriage license issued by him, or who fails to record, in the manner above prescribed, the substance of any return made thereon, within 10 days after such return made, shall forfeit and pay two hundred dollars ($200.00) to any person who sues for the same. (1871-2, c. 193, s. 10; Code, s. 1819; Rev., s. 2092; C.S., s. 2505.)

§ 51-20. Repealed by Session Laws 1969, c. 80, s. 6.

§ 51-21. Issuance of delayed marriage certificates.
In all those cases where a minister or other person authorized by law to perform marriage ceremonies has failed to file his return thereof in the office of the register of deeds who issued the license for such marriage, the register of deeds of such county is authorized to issue a delayed marriage certificate upon being furnished with one or more of the following:

(1) The affidavit of at least two witnesses to the marriage ceremony;

(2) The affidavit of one or both parties to the marriage, accompanied by the affidavit of at least one witness to the marriage ceremony;

(3) The affidavit of the minister or other person authorized by law who performed the marriage ceremony, accompanied by the affidavit of one or more witnesses to the ceremony or one of the parties thereto.

(4) When proof as required by the three methods set forth in subdivisions (1), (2), and (3) above is not available with respect to any marriage alleged to have been performed prior to January 1, 1935, the register of deeds is authorized to accept the affidavit of any one of the persons named in subdivisions (1), (2), and (3) and in addition thereto such other proof in writing as he may deem sufficient to establish the marriage and any facts relating thereto; provided, however, that if the evidence offered under this paragraph is insufficient to convince the register of deeds that the marriage ceremony took place, or any of the pertinent facts relating thereto, the applicants may bring a special proceeding before the clerk of superior court of the county in which the purported marriage ceremony took place. The said clerk of the superior court is authorized to hear the evidence and make findings as to whether or not the purported ceremony took place and as to any pertinent facts relating thereto. If the clerk finds that the marriage did take place as alleged, he is to certify such findings to the register of deeds who is to then issue a delayed marriage certificate in accordance with the provisions of this section.

The certificate issued by the register of deeds under authority of this section shall contain the date of the delayed filing, the date the marriage ceremony was actually performed, and all such certificates issued pursuant to this section shall have the same evidentiary value as any other marriage certificates issued pursuant to law. (1951, c. 1224; 1955, c. 246; 1967, c. 957, s. 10; 1969, c. 80, s. 12.)


  • James Lambert ·  General Education Program Chair at Minneapolis Media Institute
    I get the intended point here - opposition to gay marriage is the equivalent of opposition to interracial marriage - but allow me to give you a different reading; one that takes a longer view of history. For the last couple thousand years of Western Civilization, ideas have come in and out of fashion (e.g. that marriage should be abolished because we have "evolved," that polygamy should be seen as a lawful marriage, that some men and women should not be allowed to marry because of their connections to a particular racial, tribal, or religious group) but the consistent threat of what we call a legal marriage has remained as each trend passes by. My point is not that Gay Marriage must pass way, but that it is a radical change in the definition of marriage, and like any other change that is ever proposed, the burden of proof that the change is for the best, lays with those who wish to make that change. We cannot sidestep this by simply saying that anyone who does not want to change is a bigot and self-evidently in the wrong.

    • Regan DuCasse · Top Commenter · Studio City, California
      Okay then James Lambert: there are several countries, such as Canada, Spain, South Africa where marriage is FULLY legal between gay couples. And here in the US, the states of MA, IA, have it. NOTHING detrimental or bad has happened to those states or countries. The outcome isn't a theory. It's FACT, it's the TRUTH, that marriage equality has been healthy and supportable.
      The redefinition of DIVORCE, and now, the creed of the Constitution as an instrument of discrimination is what's exceptionally bad. Marriage has been redefined over and over again, to be MORE egalitarian and fairer along gender lines. This redefinition is a sign of MORE of that progress. And, the children of gay parents should matter as much as their peers with op sex parents. Justify why the children of gays should matter less in the law? So it's SELF EVIDENT that gays and lesbians as tax paying, responsible and law abiding citizens, deserve ALL the rights, protections and freedoms guaranteed them by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    • James Lambert ·  General Education Program Chair at Minneapolis Media Institute
      Clearly you are passionate about this, Regan DuCasse, but I don't find your arguments very convincing. Your data set is rather small and recent, with most of these states having less than a decade of experience with same sex partnerships and none even a full generation's worth of experience. Moreover, as I said before, this is a radical change and the burden of proof remains with those who want to make the change; simply saying that you haven't seen any negative effects so far does not prove that this change is best for the entire US to adopt. It is a clever marketing slogan to call this "marriage equality," putting the other side in the position of seeming to oppose "equality," but that same argument could just as easily be used in regard to polygamy. To paraphrase you, "Justify why the children of polygamists should matter les...See More

    • Christian Ertl · Langenpreising
      It's nonsense. Marriage has consistently been redefined. There is no reason to believe that there would be any problems. There is no argument to how that could even go. There are studies that children brought up by gay couples even do better. No, you bigot, the burden is on you.

    • James Lambert · General Education Program Chair at Minneapolis Media Institute
      Christian Ertl, clearly you haven't bothered to read what I actually said or think about this in any depth. Name calling doesn't make you right.

JPMorgan losses revive worries that Washington is unable to regulate Wall Street

Emmanuel Dunand / AFP - Getty Images
Two men speak outside JP Morgan Chase & Co headquarters in New York, May 14, 2012.

Too big to fail is bumping up against too big to regulate.

The spectacular multibillion-dollar trading losses at JPMorgan Chase (JPM), still being tallied weeks after a risky trading strategy began to unravel, have renewed concerns that the largest U.S. banks remain too massive to regulate and that the government may not be up to the task.

As federal regulators and bank officials sift through the financial wreckage, the total losses from the bank’s failed wager on a type of credit hedging derivative are unknown. That’s because JPMorgan is holding onto some of its losing bets, hoping they gradually recover some of their lost value.

But the bank’s self-inflicted wounds have severely dented its credibility among customers, regulators, Congress and credit rating agencies. Shareholders have lost more than $15 billion as the stock has plunged more than 11 percent since the bank announced trading losses of $2 billion and counting Thursday.

The top bank executive in charge of the trading unit, Chief Investment Officer Ina Drew, has announced she is retiring, and two senior traders who were instrumental in executing the failed strategy are also leaving. The bloodletting may not end there.

CEO Jamie Dimon will face a host of questions from angry shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Florida Tuesday. Among them will likely be questions about Drew’s compensation, which topped $30 million over the last two years, according to a regulatory filing. That made her one of the highest-paid officials at JPMorgan.

Dimon, who until last week enjoyed a reputation as one of the banking industry’s best risk managers, now faces stepped-up pressure from proponents of tougher bank regulations. Dimon has led his industry's push to try to water down those regulations, including the so-called Volcker rule that proposes to restrict banks from making trades that would be considered too risky. Opponents of the rule say that it would stifle profits at banks, which would be forced to raise fees for customers to make up for the lost revenues.
“The issue here is the power of the banks and whether or not we're going to regulate those banks and put a cop back on Wall Street,” Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and a proponent of tougher bank regulations, told NBC News. “The issue is whether we are going to stick with the law as written, which will prevent us from bailing out banks again. And the only way to do that is to make sure they don't take the kind of risks that were taken here.”

Proponents of tougher oversight also want to see rules that would require banks to trade credit hedges on an open market. Some have argued that would have helped identify losses like JP Morgan’s bad bets before they posed a wider risk to the system.

Dimon should also step down from his role as a top official at the New York Federal Reserve Bank, one of JPMorgan’s chief regulators, said Elizabeth Warren. Warren, an architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform regulations, is a Democratic candidate for Senate from Massachusetts.

"We have to say as a country, no, the banks cannot regulate themselves," Warren told CBS News.

"They are financial institutions that run the risk of taking down everyone's job, run the risk of taking down everyone's pension, run the risk of taking down the entire economy and that means it is appropriate to have some government oversight," she said.

At the heart of the debate is a set of rules governing whether bankers should be allowed to use shareholders’ and depositors’ money to buy and sell complex, risky investments that were created to offset a variety of other financial economic and credit risks. Opponents of the practice argue that the use of these “synthetic” investments only serves to promote the kind of money-losing bets JP Morgan traders made with other people's money.

“The term ‘synthetic’ doesn't belong in the same sentence with the word ‘bank,’” Camden Fine, CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America, told CNBC. “What we have here is high-risk trading activities conjoined with commercial banking. In the old days when you put $1 in the bank, you were at least going to get your dollar back. Today the bank is using house money for all kinds of trading activities.”

Stephen Roach, former Morgan Stanley Asia non-executive chairman, discusses what it will take to get the markets and economy moving again and restore investor confidence, on the heels of JPMorgan's recent loss.
Others argue that JPMorgan's losses only serve to underscore that banking, by its nature, is risky. If the bank had lost $2 billion on a loan to a large company that went bankrupt, for example, no one would be questioning the need for more regulation, said BankUnited CEO John Kanas.

“We're in the business of taking risk,” he said. “These people were trying to mitigate a risk. It was an error in judgment.”

But Kanas is among those who argue that the concentration of risk among a relatively small number of very large banks has created a new challenge for those would want tighter government regulation.

"If Jamie Dimon and his crew can't understand what this was, you have banks that are too big to manage, banks that are too big to regulate," he said.

JPMorgan’s losses come as Congress and Wall Street continue to wrestle over details of Dodd-Frank -- sweeping regulations that were designed to prevent a repeat of the worst financial industry crisis since the Great Depression. Wall Street lobbyists have spent two years trying to water down the final rules they’ll have to play by under terms of the 2,300-page law.

Proponents of stricter regulation argue that the biggest banks -- JP Morgan has more than $2.2 trillion in assets -- remain “too big to fail,” leaving taxpayers on the hook for future government bailouts. Dodd-Frank tried to solve that problem by allowing regulators at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to shut down even the largest banks if they believe a bank posed the kind of threat to the system inflicted by the 2008 collapse of investment bank Bear Stearns. But doubts remain about whether the FDIC has the financial resources to cope with a major bank failure.

“If you broke up Bank of America, you could break it into six or eight pieces and every one of those pieces would be bigger than Bear Stearns,” said Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago professor and former White House economist. “The banks pay into the FDIC fund. The question is have they paid enough into the fund so if major catastrophes happen the fund can cover it.”

Even if JPMorgan loses more money on its recently reported bad bets, the more than $4 billion at risk can easily be absorbed from the bank's ongoing profits. But the loss has renewed concerns about the banking systems’ vulnerability to wider financial shocks such as the further unwinding of the European debt crisis.

“Maybe if one of these banks got in trouble the FDIC could handle it,” said Kanas. “But generally this happens when there's a cluster. There would be five or six of these banks in trouble. Then what do you do?”

JPMorgan’s size -- it is the nation's largest bank -- also worked to the bank’s disadvantage in the very trades that got it into trouble.

The losses resulted from a series of bad trades involving credit default swaps, a market JP Morgan pioneered in the 1990s, which allow banks and investors to insure against the risk that a corporation or government won't repay its bonds. JPMorgan traders amassed a large holding of swaps on more than 100 corporate bonds, along with side bets on an index that tracks the performance of those bonds.

But the bank’s holdings got so large it began to move the index itself, creating a target for smaller hedge funds who began betting against JPMorgan’s traders. When the bank’s bets began going south, it was unable to find buyers for them.

“When you are that big and when your hedging position is that significant in any one index you are going to dominate the market,” Barbara Ridpath, CEO of the International Centre for Financial Regulation, told CNBC. “Therefore people are going to play against you because they’re going to be able to see you. So you’re too big to hide.” 

North Carolinians Vote Bigotry, Hatred and Discrimination Into Their Constitution –

 Amendment One Passes

“We are not anti-gay, we are pro-marriage.  And the point — the whole point — is simply that you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s design for marriage based on the demands of a group of adults.” – Tami Fitzgerald, Vote For Marriage NC.

I spent seventeen years living in North Carolina. For ten of those years I was a Minister, and while the last seven years consisted of tumultuous arguments with Christian Fundamentalists, it was still my home. One of the hardest choices I had to make was to leave when the hatred, bigotry and threats from my former brethren and fellow ministers came to a head and it was made very clear that I was not wanted.

On Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, the people of North Carolina voted in favor of Amendment 1, effectively banning any marriage other than that between a man and a woman to be unconstitutional. They have collectively told the LGBT community the same thing they told me…

Get The Fuck Out…

By passing this Amendment, the people of North Carolina have effectively told the entirety of the LGBT community that they are not wanted. That their right to be recognized as equal citizens will not be granted, and that they are incapable of forming and sustaining a loving relationship on the same level of their heterosexual neighbors. So much so, that this bigotry and discrimination should be written into the State Constitution, expressly stating that,
“marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”
What this has accomplished s nothing short of an expression of hatred in the name of the Judeo-Christian God. WWJD – Who Would Jesus Denigrate? Those who voted in favor of this amendment are the lowest of the low. They are the bottom of the barrel, and don’t give a goddamn about efforts to stop the “redefinition of marriage.” All they care about is using their hateful beliefs and their equally hateful interpretation of their holy book to control anyone who does not agree with them. The passage of this archaic, draconian amendment that allows for the legal discrimination of United States Citizens and bottlenecks the efforts of open-minded North Carolinians as well as sympathetic judges brings shame to the entire state. The fact that same-sex unions were already illegal in NC makes the passage of this amendment a legislative bitch-slap.

NC Hates Fags…

This is a complete and total failure of not just the separation of church and state, but of basic human decency. Everything about Amendment One is centered on Fundamentalist Christians shoving their fucked up and inhumane version of morality down the throats of everyone, regardless of the fact that not everyone one in the state are backwards-assed, Christ-psychotic, bigots. They don’t give shit that this can and probably will have a detrimental impact on same-sex couples who receive benefits provided by some municipalities and many private-sector businesses, nor how it will jeopardizing domestic violence protections for women or a host of other problems that are not even on their radar.

All they care about is the fact that they can dance in the aisles of their churches on Sunday and sing, “Victory In Jesus.” But their victory comes at the price of their fellow human being’s humanity, civil rights and equality, which were already extremely nominal to begin with. But their dark, putrid, and bigoted hearts will likely never understand it because those hearts have not just been hardened, they’ve been petrified. They preach that what they do is out of love, and vomit forth hypocritical statements about loving the sinner and hating the sin, but their own bible speaks against them,
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Billy Fucking Graham…

This ancient throwback to a time even more rife with bigotry is a life-long resident of North Carolina and comes in just under Jesus in popularity with the uber-religious. They worship the ground he walks on, as they do his equally bigoted and backward son “Rock The Fort“ Franklin and his daughter “Just Give Me Jesus” Annie Lotz. Brother Billy expectedly endorsed Amendment One, and took out full-page ads in fourteen North Carolina newspapers touting his support for the measure, saying,
“The Bible is clear — God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Like most fundamentalists, Billy assumes with the usual arrogance that his god has authority over everyone by virtue of that error-laden, contradictory and very fallible book that he calls “The Bible.” To make matters worse, he sent word to as many churches as he could, imploring their pastors and administrators to print out or photo copy the ad and plaster it all over their buildings – in spite of IRS regulations that prohibit this. Here’s a reproduction of the ad:

It Ain’t Over…

CNN reports that opponents of the amendment will regroup today  and decide what they will do going forward. There are plans for campaigns in many cities across the state this week, and advocacy groups are acknowledging the loss but urging supporters to keep fighting.
Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, the Director of Campaign for Southern Equality, stated,
“We can’t change the results of this vote, but we can determine what comes next. When kids across the state wake up, I want them to know that this story isn’t over.”
Another group, Equality North Carolina, plans to hold a news conference today to discuss the amendment. President Obama said he was disappointed by the vote, and described it as discriminatory against gays and lesbians.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In February, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage beginning in June, but opponents there have pledged to block the bill and called for voters to decide the issue. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill that permits the state’s same-sex couples to wed as of January 1.

This Planet Needs An Enema…

I’ve said it before, and I will repeat it here again. The efforts against the civil rights of the LGBT community is at the direct hand of organized religion, which is based on blind obedience to bronze-age superstitions based on ignorance, and propagated by divine tyrants. It was borne out of the terrified infancy of our species. It is an insult to the collective knowledge of human thought and demands unreasonable suppression of human nature.

Yesterday’s passage of Amendment One in North Carolina further solidifies the fact that religion is more harmful than it is worth. It has been used to justify almost every war ever fought and is responsible for horrific blights on our society. Only through religion have we come to know slavery, sexism, racism, homophobia, mutilations, intolerance and the oppression of millions of minorities. It is irresponsible and relies on methods and promises that are ineffective and come at a steep cost to the human species.

Fundamentalist doctrine breeds dangerous, ignorant, uneducated, hate-filled, narrow-minded, bigoted, intolerant, self-righteous fools that have been brainwashed into believing that committing some of the most horrific acts of inhumanity toward their fellow men, women and children are the want, will, desire and command the sick, twisted, perverted, megalomaniac of a deity that they have turned their god into.

They are not only a stain on humanity, but they are also a detriment to all the other Christians who represent their beliefs in a non-judjmental fashion, devoid of hypocrisy and with love that is unconditional.

The passage of Amendment One is a perfect example of humanity gone horribly wrong…

Gunmen kill senior Afghan peace negotiator

Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images
Arsalan Rahmani's death on Sunday was seen as a major blow to Karzai's U.S.-backed peace efforts.

Updated at 5:20 a.m. ET: KABUL - Gunmen shot dead a top Afghan peace negotiator in the capital Kabul on Sunday, police said, dealing a massive blow to the country's attempts to negotiate a peace deal with Taliban insurgents.

Maulvi Arsala Rahmani was one of the most senior members on Afghanistan's High Peace Council, set up by President Hamid Karzai two years ago to open talks with insurgents.

"He (Rahmani) was stuck in heavy traffic when another car beside him opened fire," said General Mohammad Zahir, head of the investigations unit for Kabul police.
Rahmani, one of about 70 influential Afghans and former Taliban appointed by Karzai to try to reconcile with the insurgents, was on his way to a meeting with lawmakers and other officials in a government-run media center in the heavily barricaded diplomatic center of Kabul.

"His driver did not immediately realise that Rahmani had been killed," police official Zahir told Reuters, adding that no one had been arrested in connection with the shooting.

No group took responsibility for the attack.

'Frustrated': Dad of Taliban prisoner Bowe Bergdahl takes matters into own hands

Rahmani was essential to the peace process, a BBC News producer in Kabul quoted an Afghan legislator as saying.

"(The) killing of Rahmani is the work of those who are against Peace Process. Rahmani was the backbone of (the) peace process," BBC News producer Bilal Sarwary quoted MP Mirwais Yasini as saying in a tweet.

Rahmani served as minister of higher education during the Taliban regime, which ruled Afghanistan for five years and sheltered al-Qaida before being driven out of power in the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001.  He was one of several former members of the Taliban who were removed from a U.N. blacklist in July 2011. The decision by a U.N. committee eliminated a travel ban and an assets freeze against Rahmani and the others -- a move seen as key to promoting the peace effort.

Afghan president says civilian deaths could render US pact 'meaningless'

NATO in Afghanistan condenmed the killing.

"The only possible aim of this attack is to intimidate those, who like Rahmani, want to help make Afghanistan a better place for its citizens and the region," it said in a statement. "This attack is clear evidence that those who oppose the legitimate government of Afghanistan have absolutely no interest in supporting the peace process on any level but through murder, thuggery, and intimidation."

The head of the peace council and former Afghan president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, was assassinated by a suicide bomber last year.

In separate news, U.K. officials announced that two British servicemen were shot by members of the Afghan police force

The Ministry of Defence said the two had been providing security near a base in the Lashkar Gah in Helmand province.

Reuters, The Associated Press and staff contributed to this report.

Voterama in Congress on major issues in the week ending May 11

Published: Friday, May 11, 2012 at 2:36 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Here's how  members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending May 11.


Voting 218 for and 199 against, the House on May 10 sent the Senate a bill (HR 5652) to increase military spending by $55 billion, or 10 percent, in fiscal 2013 while cutting sharply over 10 years into domestic programs such as food stamps, school lunches, the State Children's Health Insurance Program and subsidies to help low-income families buy medical insurance. The bill would cancel automatic spending cuts — known as a sequester — that are scheduled for 2013 and later years under the 2011 Budget Control Act. That act is the deal in which Republicans allowed the national-debt ceiling to be raised in return for Democrats accepting at least $2.2 trillion in multi-year deficit reduction. The automatic cuts would reduce military and domestic spending by about $100 billion next year. This bill would avert the defense cuts while requiring still deeper cuts in a wide range of of domestic programs, 25 percent of which benefit the poor.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting no:Rep. Jason Altmire [D, PA-4]Rep. Robert Brady [D, PA-1]Rep. Mark Critz [D, PA-12]Rep. Michael Doyle [D, PA-14]Rep. Chaka Fattah [D, PA-2]Rep. Tim Holden [D, PA-17]Rep. Allyson Schwartz [D, PA-13
Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick [R, PA-8] Rep. Todd Platts [R, PA-19]

LOBBYISTS' FEDERAL PENSIONS: Voting 170 for and 232 against, the House on May 10 defeated a bid by Democrats to amend HR 5652 (above) by denying federal pensions to any former House members of senators who become lobbyists after leaving Congress.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

JUSTICE, COMMERCE, SCIENCE: Voting 247 for and 163 against, the House on May 10 sent the Senate a bill (HR 5326) to appropriate $51.1 billion in fiscal 2013 for the departments of Justice and Commerce and agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The spending level is down about $1.6 billion, or 3 percent, from 2012.
The bill bars funding of a new EEOC rule making it more difficult for employers to defend themselves against age-discrimination suits and of a new Justice Department requirement concerning swimming-pool lifts for disabled persons.
The bill also prohibits funding of new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) rules on gun sales in which the same individual in a single week buys at least two semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines in the border states of Texas, California, Arizon a and New Mexico. The rule requires dealers to report such transactions to the government on the rationale that they involve drug trafficking.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

VOTER ID LAWS: Voting 232 for and 190 against, the House on May 9 passed an amendment to HR 5326 (above) to prevent the Justice Department from interfering with voter ID laws enacted by states. This follows the department's blocking of such laws in South Carolina and Texas as racially discriminatory. Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, 16 states or parts of states with histories of racial discrimination in the voting process must receive the department's approval to change their voting laws. Eight states have passed voter ID laws, which typically require voters to show a photo or certain other documents before they can cast a ballot.
A yes vote backed the amendment.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Voting 181 for and 233 against, the House on May 10 defeated a Democratic bid to add $20 million to HR 5326 (above) for programs designed to prevent or deal with violence against women. Republicans said the bill already contained $7.5 million more than President Obama's budget had requested for such programs in fiscal 2013.

A yes vote backed the spending increase.

EXPORT-IMPORT BANK: Voting 330 for and 93 against, the House on May 9 sent the Senate a bill (HR 2072) to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank through fiscal 2014. An independent agency backed by taxpayers, the bank provides loans and guarantees to help U.S. companies make sales in politically or economically risky markets abroad. The rationale is that without support from Washington, U.S. companies would lose sales to foreign competitors subsidized by their governments. Fewer than 2 percent of the bank's transactions have defaulted in recent years, and the agency usually returns a profit to the Treasury. The bank is barred by law from competing with private-sector lenders.
A yes vote was to pass the bill.


STUDENT-LOAN INTEREST: Voting 52 for and 45 against, the Senate on May 8 failed to reach 60 votes needed to end GOP blockage of a bill (S 2343) to prevent interest rates on newly issued Stafford student loans from doubling on July 1. The increase from today's 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent would add $1,000 on average to the lifetime cost of such loans. The bill would cost the Treasury $5.9 billion in lost revenue. To offset that sum, the bill would close a loophole used by some owners of S corporations to shield personal income from Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. The closure would affect persons earning at least $200,000 annually whose S corporations have three or fewer shareholders. By contrast, Republicans want to pay for the freeze on student-loan interest by cutting funds in the 2010 health law for preventive-care programs.

A yes vote was to start debate on the bill.
A look ahead
In the week of May 14, the House will take up the fiscal 2013 defense budget and the Violence Against Women Act, while the Senate will debate a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

How they voted in D.C. 5/13

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House voted last week to spare the military from upcoming deep spending cuts, shifting them instead to social programs like food stamps and Medicaid.
A Republican-backed bill that passed 218-199 rewrites the terms of a budget agreement that Congress reached last summer. That deal called for $98 billion in automatic reductions at the end of this year if lawmakers can’t come up with their own strategy for allocating the cuts.
But with the cuts looming, defense hawks said the Pentagon’s $55 billion share would lead to reductions of 200,000 soldiers and base closings, and would hamper military readiness. “It’s not shooting ourselves in our foot,” said Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif. “It’s shooting ourselves in the head.”

Democrats said they do not want to weaken the military but want a fairer alternative that would include a mix of spending cuts and tax increases that Republicans have refused to embrace.

“Automatic, indiscriminate, meat-ax cuts scheduled to begin next January are the wrong way to reduce the deficit,” said Congressman Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. “We need a responsible alternative.”

The House bill canceled the $98 billion in year-end cuts and substituted an alternative that called for $19 billion in cuts and $310 billion in reductions over 10 years in a range of domestic programs like Meals on Wheels, school lunches and child care grants.
Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the cuts were necessary to avoid a “debt crisis just like Europe is experiencing.”

“If we don’t get our spending under control and we don’t get our deficit under control, the people who need government the most—the poor, the elderly—they’re the ones who get hurt the first and the worst,” he said. The bill passed mostly on a party line. Sixteen Republicans voted against it. No Democrats voted for it.

Congressman Norm Dicks, D-Wash., and Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., voted against the bill.

The Senate was not expected to take up the bill, and the White House said President Barack Obama would veto it if it got to his desk.


The House passed a $51.1 billion spending bill for the Commerce and Justice departments after wading through more than 60 amendments that sought to add or cut spending or make changes in policies at the bureaucracies. The closest vote came on an amendment to increase funding for police grants by $126 million to restore it to this year’s spending level. NASA would be cut by the same amount as an offset.

Congressman Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., said the Community Oriented Policing Services program has been “highly successful” in helping local departments hire and officers and buy equipment.
Congressman Frank Wolf, R-Va., opposed taking money from NASA to pay for the increase to COPS.

“To put a spear right at NASA’s heart, I think, is a mistake,” he said. Wolf, the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that wrote the bill, asked lawmakers to vote down the amendment offering to find an alternative revenue source later in the budget process.The amendment to increase COPS funding passed, 206-204.

Dicks and Herrera Beutler voted for the amendment.


During debate, lawmakers also passed an amendment that reaffirmed House support for the 1996 law that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Congressman Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., said his proposal would forbid any money to be spent to weaken the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman.

Huelskamp criticized the Obama administration, which has decided not to defend the law against court challenges. President Obama last week further said he was in favor of same sex marriage, an historic remark by a sitting president.

“The Department of Justice and the President of the United States do not have to agree with the law, but they certainly have to enforce it and respect it,” said Huelskamp, who noted that 30 states have passed laws or constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the amendment was “meaningless” because no funds are being spent to contravene the law. The Huelskamp amendment passed, 245-171.
Herrera Beutler voted for it, while Dicks voted against it.


The Senate hit a brick wall over a bill that would prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1.

Republicans and Democrats seemed to agree on keeping the rates at 3.4 percent for at least another year. But they disagreed over how to offset the $6 billion cost.

Republicans blocked a Democratic bill that would pay for the loan subsidies by eliminating certain small business tax benefits. GOP senators said it would hurt small business owners while Democrats said the tax breaks were a wasteful loophole. A procedural vote to begin debate was 52-45, eight short of the 60 votes needed to proceed.

Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both D-Wash., voted to move forward on the bill.
Republicans have proposed to come up with savings from a health care fund that provides grants for preventive care. They called it an Obama administration slush fund while Democrats said it promotes women’s and children’s health.