From the News & Observer
RALEIGH The state's official written explanation of the proposed marriage amendment doesn't please those on either side of the argument.
The explanatory language, which will be distributed to county elections officials and news media across the state, was approved Thursday by a three-member commission that meets only for that purpose. The wording on the May 8 ballot has already been decided by the General Assembly. This official explanation is meant to elaborate for anyone who wants to know what the proposed amendment would do.
But that remains hotly debated, and both sides are angling for every advantage in their campaigns. The commission - Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, Attorney General Roy Cooper and Legislative Services Officer George Hall - approved one of more than 10 draft versions that were prepared based on input from the public.
The drafts had been run through a software program that scores readability - emphasizing simpler and shorter words and active verbs - aiming for wording that is understandable to anyone with about a high school education. But it was spin more than readability that was really at stake.
The explanation the commission adopted includes more unknowns about the potential effects of the amendment than proponents would have liked. It says that legal experts disagree and the courts will have to determine whether the amendment, which would be a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, also takes away other protections, as opponents claim.
"It exaggerates the degree of uncertainty of the issue," Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, a Republican from Apex, said after the meeting.
Tami Fitzgerald, who is running the campaign in favor of the amendment, said, "There's no ambiguity about what 'legal union' means. It's defined in federal law."
Alex Miller, who is working to defeat the proposal, would have preferred a more definitive statement about what protections opponents say the amendment will take away from unmarried couples, not just those in same-sex relationships.
"A well-drafted constitutional amendment would not require the courts to decide," he said.