North Carolina has received national attention because of Amendment 1. There has been soooo much coverage on this matter, that I thought it would be overkill to write a post on it…but since the latest poll data suggests that there are still more Amendment 1 supporters than there are opposers…I figured my 2 cents may actually make a difference. A poll done by Public Policy Polling, on May 1, shows that 55% of people polled still plan to vote in favor of the Amendment, while only 43% plan to vote against it. Another poll done by the Civitas Institute, conducted April 30 through May 2, supports the finding that there are more supporters of the Amendment. They asked register voters, “Do you support or oppose a constitutional amendment that says: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State?” The responses are as follows:
DEMOCRATIC/UNAFILLIATED VOTERS IN DEM PRIMARY
48% Total Support
44% Total Oppose
41% Strongly Support
7% Somewhat Support
6% Somewhat Oppose
38% Strongly Oppose
7% Don’t Know/ No Opinion (DO NOT READ)
1% Refused (DO NOT READ)
REPUBLICAN/UNAFILLIATED VOTERS IN REP PRIMARY
78% Total Support
15% Total Oppose
72% Strongly Support
7% Somewhat Support
3% Somewhat Oppose
12% Strongly Oppose
6% Don’t Know/ No Opinion (DO NOT READ)
I truly believe one reason why there are so many supporters is because North Carolina citizens do not understand what supporting this Amendment really entails. On election day, this is how the Amendment will read on your ballot: If this amendment passes then it will have the effect of amending Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution, by adding Section 6. Marriage, which will read as follows: “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.”
For those of you who didn’t catch it the first time…read it again. “Marriage” is the ONLY “domestic legal union” that shall be valid in the state of NC. So what does a “domestic legal union” really mean?? No one really knows because this is not a legal term and it has not yet been defined…or in other words, the term is vague and overbroad. Litigation over the meaning of this phrase could take YEARS to resolve because it has never been used in any prior NC statutory law or court holdings. In fact, this phrase has never been interpreted in any courts in any other states!! Because this phrase is so unclear, this amendment not only affects same-sex couples, this amendment could also affect any unmarried heterosexual couple as well.
For an amendment that is so unclear…it’s affects could be devastating to NC’s unmarried couples. It could have the effect of invalidating domestic partnership insurance benefits, making domestic violence even more harmful, harm the best interest of a child to unmarried parents, and limiting protections for unmarried couples. It may also have the effect of limiting economic growth to NC, which in turn could affect jobs. And I won’t even go into arguments of discrimination against a minority group or what this could do to the rise of hate crimes against homosexuals.
This amendment could invalidate domestic partnership insurance benefits. Four local governments, the Town of Tarrboro, Town of Chapel Hill, City of Durham, and County of Orange, offers insurance benefits to both same-sex and heterosexual domestic partners and the County of Durham, City of Greensboro and County of Mecklenburg offers insurance benefits to only same-sex couples. Due to the wording in this amendment, the domestic partners benefits could be invalidated and it could prevent future benefits from being given to domestic partners, homosexual or straight.
This amendment could have a huge impact on how the courts view domestic violence.
North Carolina Statute 50B-1, Domestic Violence, states:
- (b) For purposes of this section, the term “personal relationship” means a relationship wherein the parties involved:
- (1) Are current or former spouses;
- (2) Are persons of opposite sex who live together or have lived together;
- (3) Are related as parents and children, including others acting in loco parentis to a minor child, or as grandparents and grandchildren. For purposes of this subdivision, an aggrieved party may not obtain an order of protection against a child or grandchild under the age of 16;
- (4) Have a child in common;
- (5) Are current or former household members;
- (6) Are persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship. For purposes of this subdivision, a dating relationship is one wherein the parties are romantically involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary fraternization between persons in a business or social context is not a dating relationship.
Because the statute affords protections to unmarried couples, you would hope that this will not change if Amendment 1 passes, but if Ohio (which passed a similar amendment) is any indication, then Amendment 1 could limit protections only to victims who had been married to their abusers. It took THREE years before the Ohio Supreme Court decided that their domestic violence protections did not violate their constitutional amendment and before this decision was made, there were about 27 dismissals and reversals of convictions ordered by the lower courts, because the state felt they could not extend domestic violence protections to unmarried victims.
This amendment could harm the best interest of a child conceived by unmarried parents. The Catholic Voice of NC (supporters of Amendment 1), states that the government should be involved in marriage to protect children. In fact, the opposite could happen. If this amendment passes, then a judge may view a same-sex or unmarried couple as having a negative impact on a child and because of this, limit custody, visitation rights and prevent adoptions. And as stated earlier…if unmarried couples lose insurance through their job because of their unmarried status, then this will also mean more children will lose their health insurance benefits.
This amendment limits protections for unmarried couples. Currently, unmarried couples can provide protections for their partner, such as with a power of attorney and a living will. But if Amendment 1 gets passed, then courts could decide that these documents recognize a “domestic legal union” between unmarried couples, which would be considered unconstitutional. This in turn, can invalidate wills, trusts, hospital visitation, and medical decision-making between unmarried couples, as well as same-sex ones.
This amendment could limit economic growth in NC. President Obama, former President Clinton, and Senator Kay Hagan have all urged North Carolinians to vote AGAINST this amendment because it could turn away potential businesses and prevent NC from keeping good business and entrepreneurs in this state. On September 12, 2011, more than 75 CEOs signed a letter asking state officials to not approve this amendment. If this amendment passes, there will be at least 75 unhappy CEOs of companies, who are operating in the state of NC. If they decide to leave NC, the job loss will be devastating.
And I changed my mind…I am going to take up some more of your time and argue that Amendment 1 will also further discriminate against a minority group and justify hate crimes. Because the truth is, some people are going to hate gays the same way they hate blacks or foreigners, etc. but the last thing you want to do is give them a law that is going to support their prejudicial ways. Case in point: NC pastor Sean Harris, who advocates using violence to prevent children from becoming gay…seriously?!
I’m sure this post may not make any difference to some people. But if it informed one person, then it was worth spending 2 hours writing on a Saturday night (#nerdforlife). Don’t forget to vote Tuesday, May 8th!!!!
Please visit these sites for more information (in the order they appear in this post):
Public Policy Polling. http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/05/marriage-amendment-still-leads-by-14.html
Ballot Pedia. NC Carolina Same-Sex Marriage (May 2012). http://www.ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/North_Carolina_Same-Sex_Marriage,_Amendment_1_(May_2012)
The News & Record, Marriage amendment redundant and vague (April 30, 2012). http://www.news-record.com/content/2012/04/27/article/marriage_amendment_redundant_and_vague
Potential Legal Impact of the Proposed Domestic Legal Union Amendment to the North Carolina Constitution (Nov. 8, 2011). http://www.law.unc.edu/documents/faculty/marriageamendment/dlureportnov8.pdf
Protect all NC families, the harmful truth about Amendment 1. http://www.protectallncfamilies.org/the-truth
The Catholic Voice of NC. http://catholicvoicenc.org/ncmarriagefaq-finalon12-1-11.pdf
Indy Weekly, Bill Clinton makes two presidents against Amendment 1 (May 5, 2012). http://www.indyweek.com/citizen/archives/2012/05/05/bill-clinton-makes-two-presidents-against-amendment-1
Wikipedia, Recognition of same-sex unions in North Carolina. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recognition_of_same-sex_unions_in_North_Carolina#cite_note-amendment_one-2
The Huffington Post, North Carolina Pastor Sean Harris: Parents should “punch” their gay acting children , (May 2, 2012). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/north-carolina-pastor-sea_n_1468618.html