Brian Raum

On May 8, North Carolinians will vote on Amendment One: an act which amends “the constitution [of North Carolina] to provide that marriage between a man and woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in [the] state.” President Barack Obama has spoken out against Amendment One, the ACLU is lobbying against Amendment One, and the California Democratic Party has registered its disdain over the possibility that Amendment One might pass.

And while none of this is particularly ground-breaking news—it’s not uncommon to see President Obama, the ACLU, and the Democratic Party align against something that protects marriage—people may be surprised to know that representatives from Bank of America are also doing their part to try to make sure Amendment One doesn’t pass.

For example, Catherine Bessant, global technology and operations executive at the Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, has appeared in a video opposing Amendment One and is on record saying, “Amendment One has the potential to have a disastrous effect on our ability to attract talent and keep talent in the state of North Carolina.”

Of course, the claim that the marriage amendment is going to hurt business is just a smokescreen unless it’s spoken out of ignorance. Which is true for Bessant is not known. But North Carolina Rep. Paul Stam has made it clear that the amendment was framed in a way that doesn’t prevent private employers from offering civil-union benefits to an employee’s same-sex partner: “We added that language specifically to allay unfounded assertions that this was going to hurt businesses. They can give any kind of benefit they want. Where’s the beef?”

Nevertheless, the sad thing is that in reaction to an amendment that’s pro-family—and North Carolina’s Amendment One is pro-family—there are actually individuals who put financial interests first. (It’s all somewhat reminiscent of when many people—including some evangelical Christians—voted for Bill Clinton and justified doing so by seizing on the mantra, “It’s the economy stupid.”)

But this time around, it’s not the economy that’s involved here, despite what some are claiming. Amendment One has been fashioned in such a way so as to guarantee that it isn’t. And this makes Bessant’s words all the more inaccurate.

Bank of America spokesperson Nicole Nastacie said that, while Bank of America won’t take an official position on Amendment One, “employees are allowed and encouraged to be involved in their personal capacity in dialogue and debate on important public issues.”

Let’s hope the bank sticks to its laudable policy if another executive stands up to in support of marriage and Amendment One.


Brian Raum

Brian Raum serves as senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund.