Next Tuesday, North Carolina voters will decide for or against the following language:
"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."
If the voters who choose to protect marriage outnumber those who don't, the following will appear in the state constitution:
"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."
At least 41 states have laws banning homosexual "marriage" by amendment or statute, including North Carolina. In 1996, the state legislature passed a law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. But the political landscape has changed in 16 years. Homosexual activists have become much more determined to redefine marriage and render it meaningless. North Carolina lawmakers decided to let the people vote directly and make the ban part of the state constitution, so only the voters-not courts or lawmakers-can change it, according to state law.
Judges in other states can and do strike down voter-approved laws. In February, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel affirmed a lower court's ruling that California's Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional. But there is a stay on such "marriages" pending appeals.
The North Carolina amendment's opponents claim that if marriage becomes the only domestic legal union, the law would weaken domestic violence laws, take away health insurance from children of the unmarried, and affect custody and visitation arrangements. Proponents deny the law will do any of those things. The advocacy group Vote FOR Marriage NC notes that protection under existing domestic violence laws, for example, isn't dependent on the victim's marital status. "Out of the extensive six different sub-categories outlined in this statute, even roommates qualify under these protections regardless of marital status."
Rep. Paul Stam, North Carolina House Majority Leader, said in a press release that the amendment's language allows private companies to offer domestic partnership and civil union benefits but would bar the government from forcing companies to do so. The law won't invalidate wills, trusts, and estates, or healthcare powers of attorney.
Rachel Lee, communications director for Vote FOR Marriage NC, told Baptist Press the amendment wouldn't take away anyone's healthcare coverage: "They know that North Carolinians support preserving marriage between a man and a woman, and they're bringing up these distraction arguments that are based on falsehoods."
Alarmist claims about uninsured children and unprotected victims of domestic violence notwithstanding, here's what really sticks in opponents' collective craw: The amendment appears simply to bar the government from calling domestic partnerships and civil unions "marriage" and strongly reiterate there will be no homosexual "marriage" in North Carolina.