Many Durham Neighborhoods are covered with yard signs like this.
By Lou Perron
As I drive around Durham’s urban neighborhoods, it’s hard not to notice the sea of yard signs urging voters to oppose “the Amendment.”
If Durham ruled the state, this harmful amendment would be soundly defeated. Our tolerant city, home to the Gay Pride parade, understands that it makes no sense to enshrine discrimination in the state constitution.
Here’s the language that Amendment One would put in our constitution:
“Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”
This is already the law in North Carolina, but our legislature didn’t think that went far enough. The Amendment goes beyond simply outlawing gay marriage. It would outlaw any kind of “domestic legal union” that creates a non-traditional family – whether the partners are opposite sex, or the same sex. The Amendment could invalidate all sorts of non-marriage arrangements that are already in place: employer provided health benefits for unmarried partners and their children, private estate planning, rights of unmarried partners to visit their loved-one in the hospital, and more. The Amendment would take away local control by preventing any city or town from allowing domestic partnership. One of the most worrisome concerns is that unmarried people, gay or straight, would lose protection under the state’s domestic violence laws.
Supporters of the Amendment say that opponents exaggerate the effects of the Amendment. But one thing is sure, the Amendment will create so much uncertainty in the law, that North Carolina’s courts would have to spend a lot of time sorting out it all out.
No wonder the CEOs of 56 North Carolina companies, as well as the Durham Chamber of Commerce have gone on record against the Amendment. The Durham Chamber’s resolution [link to http://www.protectncfamilies.org/news/greater-durham-chamber-commerce-opposes-amendment-one ] does a good job of identifying the Amendment’s adverse economic consequences.
The Amendment is not a partisan issue. Both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, have come out against the Amendment: John Hood of the John Locke Foundation; former mayors of Charlotte, Richard Vinroot and Harvey Gantt; Bob Orr, Republican former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court; U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, Governor Bev Perdue and all three of the Democratic primary candidates for Governor. The list goes on and on. These leaders recognize the harms to families, children, and North Carolina’s economy that will come with this Amendment. And they also have a better understanding of individual liberty than the Amendment’s supporters.
Even N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, who voted to put the Amendment on the ballot, realizes that it is the last gasp of an outdated world view. He told a student group last month, “if it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years.” “It’s a generational issue,” Tillis said. “The data shows right now that you are a generation away from that issue.”
Durham will surely provide a large block of votes against the Amendment. But North Carolina is a big and conservative state. So even if nothing else on the ballot inspires you, your vote will be needed.
If you’re not registered yet, you can show up at the Board of Elections to register and vote during the early voting from April 19 to May 5.
DURHAM Board of Elections
706 W Corporation St., Durham
Early Voting/Registration Hours:
May 3 - May 4 8:00 am - 7:30 pm
May 5 - 8:00 am - 1:00 pm
For more information about Amendment One:
Protect All NC Families: http://www.protectncfamilies.org/home
Equality NC: http://www.equalitync.org/