You won’t often hear us talking about religion or politics here. We have deep respect for other people’s beliefs and don’t often feel it necessary to try to convince people of ours. However, right now we are a touch fired up. Believe me when I tell you that it is not a good thing when the Bowker sisters get fired up. We tend to get a little crazy. And then we start to do research. And you surely do not want us doing any research. If you live in North Carolina like we do, I am sure you have heard of Amendment One, which is on the ballot for the primary election on May 8th. It reads…
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.
Let us start by saying that no matter what you believe about gay marriage, this amendment will have absolutely no impact on the legality of gay marriage in North Carolina. At this point gay marriage is illegal. If this amendment passes or fails, it will continue to be. What this amendment will do is make a change in the North Carolina Constitution to the way marriage is defined and what would be considered an acceptable marriage by the state. This seems very simple, however, the implications of this change could be significantly more wide reaching. This is an amendment that is poorly thought out and vaguely worded. It has the potential to impact not only gay citizens of North Carolina but also all other families in North Carolina that do not fall into the new and restrictively laid out definition established in the amendment. According to our research, here are the possible implications of Amendment One if it passes…
1) This amendment could invalidate other laws that protect NC families. This includes preventing courts from enforcing private agreements between unmarried couples such as..
– interfering with custody and visitation rights that are put into place to be in the best interest of the children
– interfering with wills, trusts and medical powers of attorney executed by unmarried couples
– preventing courts from enforcing private employer benefits such as health insurance to families of gay and straight couples who are domestic partners
2) This law will be confusing to businesses who offer domestic partnerships and may cause national companies not to want to come to NC. The five largest public companies in NC including Bank of America, Lowe’s, Duke Energy, BB&T, and Reynolds American prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Due to the amendment, issues could arise with the ability of these companies to provide insurance to affected families.
3) This amendment could invalidate protections of current domestic violence laws due to its vague wording and the current ability of anyone in an abusive relationship to obtain a protection order could be jeopardized. A similar law passed in Ohio which was even more carefully worded than NC’s. This law has since been utilized by criminal defense lawyers to allow perpetrators of domestic violence to walk free due to confusion caused in the legal system.
Lawyers claimed that because their clients were not legally married to the person against whom they allegedly committed a domestic violence crime, the charge was void under the new law. Different courts came to different conclusions, which resulted in confusion until the Ohio Supreme Court settled the matter, ruling that the domestic violence laws were unaffected by the new amendment. There was a period of two and a half years between the passage of the amendment and this court ruling. 1
This law could make it so that only married woman qualify for domestic violence protection.
4) In prohibiting state validation or recognition of “domestic legal unions,” the proposed Amendment would introduce into the Constitution a phrase whose meaning is unclear, which has never been used in any prior statutory law in North Carolina or interpreted by our courts, and which has never been interpreted by courts in any other state. 1 Lawyers and public resources will have to be invested to determine what these words mean.
I think that most caring and reasonable people would agree that all of those implications pretty much suck.
Here is a list of a few of the people and groups who have spoken out against this amendment…
– President Barack Obama
– Governor Bev Purdue- “I continue to support that law today. But I’m going to vote against the amendment because I cannot in good conscience look an unemployed man or woman in the eye and tell them that this amendment is more important than finding them a job.”
– Democrat Larry Hall- “Instead of creating an environment where we can create employment, attract entrepreneurs (and) attract talent, we’re going to try to put a sign up to say, ‘You are not welcome if you want to contribute to our society.'”
– Democratic Rep. Joe Hackney, the House Minority Leader
– Former Charlotte mayor Republican Richard Vinroot- “It … may hurt our ability to attract business and job opportunity into North Carolina.”
– Republican Congressional candidate Edwin Peacock III- “I’m a Republican and a proud Republican who is conservative, but this is not getting us back on track.”
– Chapel Hill Town Council
– Raleigh City Council
– Log Cabin Republicans
– Sherre Toler, former Director of Elections for Harnett County, who resigned because of the referendum
– Orange County Board of Commissioners
– Bob Etheridge, candidate for Governor of NC
– Senator Kay Hagan- “North Carolina is one of the most business-friendly states in the nation, and this amendment would harm our state’s ability to recruit the innovators and businesses that are driving our economic recovery.”
– Robert Orr, former Justice of the NC Supreme Court
– Rev. Chris Ayers, Wedgewood Baptist Church- “Shame on Baptists for not knowing their history. And shame on Baptists who support Amendment One.”
– Rev. John Cleghorn- Caldwell Presbyterian Church
– Pastor Ricky Woods, First Baptist Church West- “We should not be putting discrimination into our laws against any particular group, regardless of how we feel about what their choices are.”
– Bank of America executive Cathy Bessant- “What Amendment One does is make it look like we’re a state that ignores both the needs and the preferences of the next generation of America’s and the world’s workforce.”
– On September 12, 2011, more than 75 North Carolina CEOs signed an open letter to state officials asking them to halt efforts to approve the proposed amendment
See, I told you you didn’t want us to go doing any research. I know that is a lot of information to have to process on a Friday. Besides all those facts and quotes, to us it seems like a simple choice. We believe in making our decisions by employing a few easy little principles. Kindness and reason. If something is either kind and/or reasonable, we can generally get behind it. To us, this amendment is obviously not very reasonable. But the most important aspect of it all is that it most certainly is not kind. It is at its essence attempting to say that some people are more fit to be in a long and loving relationships than others. It is defining what type of relationship is considered to be acceptable for commitment. In our humble opinion, this a matter of basic human rights and equality. And the golden rule. Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.