NC’s Constitutional Amendment One: 10 Important Points
You Need to Know (by attorney Jason McGrath)
The following are facts, and I write this from the objective perspective as a 16 year attorney analyzing the law, not from a personal or subjective perspective. At the bottom of this page is a link to the text of the Amendment and an explanation of it from the 2012 North Carolina Voter Guide.
1) North Carolina law already restricts marriage to being between one woman and one man. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on this proposed Amendment (much of it your taxpayer dollars), and many have asked why that money wasn’t instead used to prevent teachers from being laid off, to re-open libraries, and to fund programs to create jobs.
2) If the proposed Amendment fails, the law will not change – nobody loses rights they currently have, and the legal status of a traditional marriage is not legally weakened in any way. Again, NC law already limits marriage to being between one woman and one man. The North Carolina law which already bans homosexual and other non-traditional marriages was never “under attack”.
3) The proposed Amendment does not just apply to “marriage” – by its wording, it applies to all romantic/domestic relationships between non-married persons, whether heterosexual or homosexual, no matter how committed and stable. Any rights or benefits a non-married significant other may have could be eliminated. The Amendment outlaws the recognition of any other “domestic legal union” besides a marriage between one woman and one man. The term “domestic legal union” is a made-up one with no definition or useful history, but by the words themselves would seem to describe any committed relationship other than traditional marriage.
4) The proposed Amendment may have many negative “unintended” consequences. For example, the proposed Amendment may weaken or eliminate healthcare benefits that some currently have. If only traditional marriages can be legally recognized, then how is the law going to allow non-married persons in committed relationships to receive the same consideration as married persons? If you are currently covered by your significant other’s health insurance, but you are not married, that coverage may be at risk. There are tens of thousands of persons in North Carolina who are covered under a significant other’s insurance policy. If the employer is a public agency or even receives public funding Amendment One may eliminate benefits currently provided to non-married significant others.
5) Family law professors from every single law school in North Carolina oppose Amendment One. These are smart people, experts in their fields. They are men, women, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Christians, non-Christians.
6) The Attorney General for the State of North Carolina opposes Amendment One and has called it “unwise and unclear”.
7) The proposed Amendment may weaken or eliminate current protections for some victims of domestic violence. If only traditional marriages can be legally recognized, then how is the law going to allow non-married persons in committed relationships to receive the same consideration as married persons? For example, if your daughter’s or sister’s fiance beat her and she applied for a Domestic Violence Protection Order, an argument can be made that, because a traditional marriage is the only relationship which can be legally recognized, your daughter or sister would not be entitled to the same protection a married woman would be.
8) The proposed Amendment may interfere with your loved one’s rights to visit you in the hospital, act as your healthcare surrogate, and otherwise be involved in important aspects of your life and health and may also weaken or eliminate child custody or visitation rights for heterosexuals as well. If only traditional marriages can be legally recognized, then how is the law going to allow non-married persons in committed relationships to receive the same consideration as married persons?
9) States which have passed “protect traditional marriage” laws and amendments have not seen a decrease in the divorce rate or the rate of unwed mothers.
10) The passage of Amendment One will be very expensive and will require money and other resources which otherwise could be spent on jobs, schools, communities and roadways. If Amendment One passes, many things will change – mostly changes that were not necessarily even intended. The court battles will be epic and will last for years. They will cost millions of dollars. If Amendment One passes, many millions more will be spent because of it – is that what you want your taxes to pay for, or would you rather have street lights replaced and have better schools for your children?
Amendment One’s language and the official explanation of it can be found here: http://www.ncvoterguide.org/amendment/index.php
McGrath & Spielberger, PLLC provides legal services in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The firm offers full scale representation, as well as limited scope services.