Published: May 05, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: May 05, 2012 10:42 AM
Some members of the General Assembly have been hoping for years to ensure that discrimination reigns in perpetuity in North Carolina by inserting an amendment into the state constitution that would forever forbid same-sex couples from being legally married here.
Last year, with Republicans ascendant, they finally succeeded in getting the measure onto the ballot. Amendment One, as you all no doubt have heard, goes before the voters in Tuesday’s primary election.
You’d think that, with that much time to prepare, they could have come up with a better amendment.
To be sure, even if the amendment was clearly written in order to achieve its intended purpose, we would vigorously oppose it.
We hold it to be a self-evident truth that inherent in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the right of adults to marry whom they wish (assuming both parties agree, of course). We don’t believe it’s the business of the state to dictate to law-abiding adults whom they may and may not marry (why is it that the people who insist the government should control the most private aspects of our lives are the same ones who howl to the heavens about the evils of “big government”?).
We’re appalled at the effort to inscribe discrimination permanently into the constitution, which is intended to guarantee the fundamental rights of all citizens, not to grant those rights to certain groups and exclude others.
So even if the amendment was narrowly tailored to deny gay residents the same to right to marry as is enjoyed by their neighbors and coworkers, we’d be urging our fellow North Carolinians to vote it down.
But the amendment before us goes well beyond that. It says that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”
In one fell swoop, it threatens the many existing protections and benefits that are held by unmarried domestic partners – of the same or opposite sex – and their children. Those protections and benefits cover things ranging from health insurance coverage to powers of attorney, wills, child custody and domestic abuse laws.
Supporters of the amendment dismiss those concerns, pointing to a line in the amendment saying it does not prohibit private parties from entering into “contracts” or prohibit courts from “adjudicating” those contracts. Not to worry, they say: The amendment won’t actually have any effect at all – same-sex marriage is already illegal in North Carolina – and is not intended to limit existing domestic partnership rights.
We stand with Rep. David Price, who said, “Well, you should have drafted it better to begin with. Or better yet, don’t even do this – don’t even think about enshrining discrimination into our constitution this way, because you’re going to hurt a lot of people, including a lot of children.”
At best, the amendment is vague enough to lead to years of litigation, uncertainty and expense by untold thousands of hard-working North Carolinians.
And for what? To bind future generations with the prejudices of this one.
If you haven’t already, we urge you to vote No on Amendment One.
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