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Meet The “Legal Experts” Supporting North Carolina’s Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

April 25, 2012 9:16 am ET by Carlos Maza

Vote FOR Marriage NC, the leading group working to pass North Carolina’s anti-gay marriage amendment, has been touting a white paper published by three law professors who claim to have debunked many of the concerns raised about the amendment’s broad language. In a recent press release, the group hailed the professors for being an “independent source”:

“For months, the media and opponents of the Marriage Protection Amendment have been spreading false information regarding the affect [sic] of the Amendment on current law,” said Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Vote FOR Marriage NC. “Now we have an independent source as well as legal scholars refuting the false claims by our opponents."

The professors themselves – all from the Campbell University School of Law in North Carolina – reiterated [that point throughout their paper, depicting themselves as neutral, unbiased commentators] their neutrality and role as unbiased commentators throughout the paper:

The reason for this paper is a narrow one. We do not endorse or oppose the proposed Amendment. There are thoughtful arguments on both sides, and we encourage a robust public debate about the Amendment. Our aim instead is to help clarify for North Carolina voters the Amendment’s legal meaning and likely effects.

In reality, however, all three professors have anti-gay agendas, and none of them appear to have expertise relating to family law.

Lynn R. Buzzard

According to his Campbell University bio, Lynn R. Buzzard specializes in international law dealing with “religious liberty, refugee and asylum issues” in countries like China and Russia. He also has a background in theological studies and a history of working the religious organizations.

Years before the fight over gay marriage gained national attention, Buzzard was a stalwart opponent of the mainstreaming and normalization of homosexuality.

In 1995, Buzzard lamented the “slide” of American culture into non-Christian morality, writing:

[T]he culture moves relentlessly and recklessly toward a Romans 1 crisis, an inexorable descent from a rejection of God to the basest animalism.

[...]

Consider the American family. Has the plea for responsible sex, the celebration of “promise keepers,” or the targeting of dead-beat dads provided us with a vision of sexuality and family life which provides a nurturing environment for children?

In a 2003 interview with North Carolina’s News & Observer, Buzzard voiced his support for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, saying:

The biggest concern is the extent to which it poses an assault, whether intended or not, on the basic institution of marriage. Many observers, of whom I'm one, feel the institution of marriage has been at the core of Western culture, that it's the principal institution -- not government, not the state, not business, but the family -- and that there has been this historic linkage between the institution of marriage and child-rearing and family, and the relationship of sexuality and marriage. All of those are at risk in this movement to redefine the notion of marriage. 

[...]

One of the confusions that is prominent today is that whatever a society chooses to tolerate, it must also affirm. I don't believe that's true. We tolerate all kinds of speech which the government wouldn't celebrate. A free society requires even freedom to offend, but no one would say because I have the freedom to say a racist remark that the state must treat it with equal respect or equal status. There are all kinds of ways in which we permit a broader range of freedom than we would hold up as ideal. In the same way, our society may accept a wide range of sexual behavior without criminal penalty; that's different from saying society must treat all sexual behavior as having the same value for society. 

Also impacting this debate is a kind of radical individualism, coupled sometimes with a kind of hedonism, which says that I ought to do what I want. [retrieved via Nexis, emphasis added]

Buzzard doesn’t seem to have changed his mind about the amendment since then. In a letter to the editor of the News &Observer last September, he criticized the paper for arguing in opposition to the amendment, writing:

[T]he ultimate effect of The N&O's position is that it's OK for judges to "amend" the constitution and define marriage as they wish - by construing broad constitutional language - but dangerous, reactionary and hostile to "rights" for citizens to amend their constitution to reflect their views. I guess rule by oligarchy - the elite "wise" people (judges) - is preferable to democratic processes where the people speak. [emphasis added]

For fifteen years, Buzzard was also executive director of the Christian Legal Society (CLS), a national organization of Christian lawyers with a history of anti-gay activism.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the CLS in a case involving one of its student groups at the University of California Hastings. The Supreme Court upheld the university’s decision to revoke the student group’s recognition pursuant to university rules requiring groups to accept “all comers” after the group barred membership to “unrepentant homosexuals.”

In fact, a number of CLS student groups across the country have faced losing recognition after violating university guidelines prohibiting discrimination against gay and lesbian students.  

William A. Woodruff

William A. Woodruff’s legal experience centers on issues relating to civil litigation, litigation involving the military, trial advocacy, and preparing law students entering the legal profession.

Woodruff has a history of anti-gay activism and legal work. Most notable he was a strong opponent of allowing gays to serve in the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). He appeared alongside a number of ant-gay Republican Senators to argue in opposition to lifting the ban on gay service members in 1993. 

In 1995, he co-authored a law review article titled “Gays in the Military: What About Morality, Ethics, Character and Honor?,” again arguing in opposition to allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military.The article stated: “Service members who have a genuine propensity to indulge in homosexual acts have a serious handicap, which many would call a character defect, regardless of how soldierly, good, or noble they may be in other respects.”

That year, he penned another article in opposition to open homosexuality in the military, defending the proposition that “homosexual conduct” would harm “good order, discipline, moral, and unit cohesion.”

Woodruff was also included in the acknowledgments for The Pink Swastika, a book that argues, among other things, that the Nazi Party “is best understood as a neo-pagan, homosexual cult.”

Like Buzzard, Woodruff is a member of the anti-gay Christian Legal Society.

E. Gregory Wallace

Associate Law Professor E. Gregory Wallace is the least vocally anti-gay of the three professors, but still strongly opposes marriage equality. According to his bio, he teaches “constitutional law with a concentration in free speech, church and state, and constitutional interpretation.”

As InterstateQ noted in February, Wallace isn’t an unbiased commentator when it comes to the debate over same-sex marriage. He has ties to the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law’s “Marriage Law Project” (MLP) a legal assistance program that “seeks to reaffirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

In 1999, Wallace signed MLP’s London Conference Statement, which stated:

We believe that marriage is the unique union of a man and a woman, a community of life and love. Marriage so understood is built into the fabric of social life, and cannot be arbitrarily redefined by lawmakers. Male-female marriage provides incomparable benefits to society, especially for children and for those who invest their lives in raising their children. Our domestic and international laws should preserve, protect and promote the institution of marriage.

[...]

Redefining marriage to include same-sex unions will introduce unprecedented moral, social and legal confusion into our communities. It will not advance the causes of freedom, equality, justice, and human rights. Rather, it will weaken marriage, and ultimately undermine these causes too. [emphasis added]

In 2000, Wallace signed a similar statement directed towards the parliament of the Netherlands, which stated:

Redefining marriage to include same-sex unions will introduce unprecedented moral, social and legal confusion into our communities. The casualties of this confusion will be the families and children of the future, and therefore our societies as a whole.

We would remind the Dutch Parliament that many legal scholars, including the undersigned, do support marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In that respect, we represent the beliefs and practices of the overwhelming majority of humanity. No country is an island. Your actions will have fateful consequences not only for Europe, but for every country in the world. [emphasis added]


Family law professors from every law school in the state of North Carolina (including Campbell University) have criticized the white paper, reaffirming widespread concern about the marriage amendment’s vague wording.

While groups like Vote FOR Marriage NC have been all too eager to promote the professors’ white paper as an “independent” defense of the anti-gay marriage amendment, the reality is that all three of its authors have histories of anti-gay activism that call their neutral, unbiased judgment into question.

Previously:

MSNBC Spotlights Battle Over North Carolina's Amendment One

NC’s Brad Miller: Marriage Amendment “Goes Too Far”

Meet The “Legal Experts” Criticizing New York’s Marriage Equality Bill