To the Editor,
On May 8, voters will consider Amendment One, a measure that its proponents claim “protects marriage.” However, same-sex marriage is already illegal in North Carolina, and our courts and legislature have not made a single indication to the contrary.
A vote for Amendment One is really a vote to take away health insurance benefits from children; a vote to strip domestic violence protections from victims; and a vote to harm seniors who choose not to remarry later in life. Amendment One will ban government attempts to provide even limited rights to unmarried couples.That much is clear from its text — “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” There are currently nine state municipalities that provide “domestic partnership” health insurance coverage to public employees’ unmarried partners and their children. These benefits would become unconstitutional. Domestic violence protections for unmarried couples will also be jeopardized by the passage of Amendment One.
After Ohio passed a “marriage amendment,” Ohio courts reversed or dismissed domestic violence convictions in at least 27 cases because the batterer was not married to his partner. (See http://www.law.unc.edu/documents/faculty/marriageamendment/dlureportnov8.pdf.)
What’s more, there is real potential for seniors to experience harm if Amendment One passes. Many seniors who lose their spouses find love again, but never remarry. A court could hold that these couples’ wills, trusts, or powers of attorney arose from an unmarried cohabitant relationship that constituted a “domestic legal union” other than marriage, and then deem enforcement of such documents an unconstitutional “recognition” of the relationship by the state. Therefore, a dying person’s final wishes might not be honored, and his surviving partner could be left destitute. It’s not marriage that’s under attack, it’s the rights of hundreds of thousands of unmarried couples.
Vote against Amendment One on May 8.