- Posted May 9, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Same-sex marriage: Civil right vs. states' rights
Uncertainty Greets the Tarheel State
North Carolinians woke up this morning as every morning knowing that marriage was defined as between 1 man and 1 woman. That had been codified into state law for a long time. Nothing new here. However, the passage with over 60% of the vote of Amendment 1, which made the definition of marriage a part of the state constitution, has also left residents and couples statewide wondering what else the amendment may mean.
Amendment 1 did not just deifne marriage and inscribe it in the state constitution, but it also banned all civil unions and domestic partnerships without taking into account the gender of the couples involved. That has left everyone unclear just what ramifications may be in store.
"Same-sex marriage was illegal today; it's illegal tomorrow," said John Dinan, a political science professor at Wake Forest University who writes an annual review of state constitutional amendments. "There were no same-sex civil unions recognized in North Carolina today. Those will not be recognized tomorrow. The bottom line is there's not a lot of change because of this amendment."
The amendment likely would affect issues other than gay marriage the most because the "marriage-plus" amendment approved in North Carolina prohibits not only same-sex marriage, but also same-sex civil unions.
For example, a handful of local governments provide benefits to employees who are involved in same-sex relationships. In Michigan, the state's highest court ruled that an amendment did affect those benefits, Dinan said. But in North Carolina, officials in Durham and Orange counties have said they don't expect to have to eliminate those benefits because of the amendment, he said.
Opponents had said they feared the law could affect domestic violence protections, some of which refer to people who live together. Dinan said he doubted that would happen, although Ohio had a three-year court fight over the issue before the Supreme Court ruled the laws weren't affected.
Some voters who opposed the amendment weren't that concerned with the practical effects of the amendment, but more with how it makes North Carolina look.
But even the state House Speaker, who supported the amendment, expressed reservations about how long it would survive. Speaker Thom Tillis said he expects the amendment to be reversed within 20 years as today's young adults age.
While legislators can easily undo a state law, it's much harder to reverse a constitutional amendment, Dinan said. The latter requires a three-fifths vote in both legislative houses, then voter approval.
"One can't rule that out," he said. "But it's become more difficult to make that change now."
From the Cornfield, I am a strong supporter of the 10th Amendment and feel this is a states right issue. I respect the wishes of the people of the State of North Carolina.
Sadly, this amendment may have unforeseen consequences. Some who disagree with same-gender marriage, that I know in the state, voted against the amendment simply because the amendment in their opinion went too far and may jeopardize other issues involving unmarried opposite gender couples, children and more as it is worded.