“I believe that our constitution is a sacred document that should protect the rights of ALL AMERICANS and STRONGLY urge you to vote AGAINST Amendment One!” – Dr. Bruce Peller
North Carolina Marriage Amendment
In its 1995 session, the North Carolina General Assembly amended the state’s General Statutes to say that, Marriages, whether created by common law, contracted, or performed outside of North Carolina, between individuals of the same gender are not valid in North Carolina (51-1.2). It should be noted here that COMMON LAW marriages by heterosexual couples was NOT affected by the law change. One should keep this in mind. The statute does nothing to prevent any business or governmental entity from offering benefits to the domesticated partner of their employees.
Based on a thorough reading of the laws, North Carolina already prohibits a legal marriage between two persons of the same gender. It wasn’t until 1977, that North Carolina adopted the law which validated interracial marriages (51-3.1). In fact, section 51-6, prohibits any church official from solemnizing a marriage.
On the federal level, The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. U.S.C. 1738C defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.
Currently nine states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriages that were performed either in their respective state or from another. Another eight states recognize same-sex marriages as marriage-like contracts under the name of civil union or domestic partnership.
In September 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly, by the mandatory 2/3 vote in both chambers, placed this amendment on the May 2012 primary ballot. It should be noted that in the state House, 9 Democrats joined the 68 Republicans to pass the measure. Here is the wording of the amendment:
Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.
For or Against
If approved, the proposed measure would amend Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution by adding a new section:
Sec. 6. Marriage.
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.
State law requires that a Constitutional Amendment Explanation be compiled to better explain the impact. The Secretary of State’s office released the explanation in early March and it reads:
A current North Carolina law enacted in 1996 says that marriage between individuals of the same sex are not valid in North Carolina. This amendment would make that concept part of the North Carolina Constitution. If this amendment is passed by the voters, then under state law it can only be changed by another vote of the people. The term “domestic legal union” used in the amendment is not defined in North Carolina law. There is debate among legal experts about how this proposed constitutional amendment may impact North Carolina law as it relates to unmarried couples of same or opposite sex and same sex couples legally married in another state, particularly in regard to employment-related benefits for domestic partners; domestic violence laws; child custody and visitation rights; and end-of-life arrangements. The courts will ultimately make those decisions. The amendment also says that private parties may still enter into contracts creating rights enforceable against each other. This means that unmarried persons, businesses and other private parties may be able to enter into agreements establishing personal rights, responsibilities, or benefits as to each other. The courts will decide the extent to which such contracts can be enforced. Source: Calling All Voters, www.secretary.state.nc.us.
I am steadfastly opposed to this amendment on two specific reasons:
- Our Constitution, be it state or federal, was intended by our founding fathers to be a sacred document that bestows rights on its citizens, not removes them. Our Declaration of Independence is quite clear when it says, “…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…Life Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness!” I am absolutely convinced that sexual orientation is NOT a choice, and that each of us is created in the image of a kind and loving Creator. Since we already have a state law which prohibits same-sex marriage, the passage of this amendment would place an important and valued segment of our population into “second class status.”
- Under current domestic violence laws, a victim of abuse does not have to be legally married to her/his abuser to seek protection from law enforcement and the courts. Many respected legal experts on both sides of the aisle have serious doubts about the state’s ability to offer legal assistance to a victim if the amendment passes.
Amendment 1 is a bad attempt on the part of extreme right-wing social engineering republicans to further divide the citizens of North Carolina. I am opposed to it at the state level, and as your congressman I will oppose it at the federal level as well.