North Carolina Legislature Places Anti-Marriage Amendment on May 2012 Ballot

by Carolyn Simon

Broad language may also prohibit civil unions and domestic partnerships


Washington – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, and Equality North Carolina, the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization, admonishes the North Carolina legislature for ignoring the real needs of North Carolinians to place an anti-marriage amendment on the May 2012 ballot.  The state Senate passed the proposal by a 30-16 vote, following a House vote of 75 to 42 last night.

The bill, as passed, moves the ballot date for the amendment from November 2012 to May 2012. It also retains problematic language defining opposite-sex marriage as the state’s “only domestic legal union,” but adds,  ”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.” This unclear language may have the effect of prohibiting the state from providing civil unions or domestic partnerships to any couples.  A poll conducted by Elon in 2011 shows 57 percent of North Carolinians support marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships in North Carolina. Only 35 percent oppose any legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples. 

“This legislative battle may be lost, but the fight goes on,” said Equality North Carolina Interim Executive Director Alex Miller.  “While the proponents of this harmful, divisive, shameful legislation may have succeeded in throwing up a temporary barrier against the inevitable tide of acceptance and equality, our struggle continues and the campaign to defeat this amendment at the ballot box begins today.”

“At a time when all North Carolina families are worrying about job losses and cuts in education, it is unconscionable that the legislature add additional stress to a segment of those families,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “Neighbors are no longer willing to be pitted against one another over these issues. When ballots are cast in May 2012, we are confident North Carolinians will not be persuaded to limit the rights of their friends and family to such a degree. ”

HRC and Equality North Carolina have been working closely with supportive legislators, faith leaders, businesses, labor and other progressive organizations in the state to oppose this measure in the legislature. 

Currently, 29 states have constitutional amendments prohibiting marriage for same-sex couples. However, only 18 states, fewer than a quarter, include language that implicates other forms of relationship recognition such as domestic partnerships and civil unions. North Carolina’s proposed amendment is among the most restrictive in the country.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Equality NC is a statewide organization working to secure equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender North Carolinians.

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