North Carolina’s Proposed Amendment 1 Goes Far Beyond Gay Marriage

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I’m a proud North Carolinian.  I grew up in what I will argue with anyone is the finest state in the country.  It is a state with beautiful beaches, picturesque mountains and everything in between.  It is a state that, compared to some our neighbors in the southeast, is pretty progressive.  From an early age I was taught about the role North Carolina played in the civil rights movement, like the famous Greensboro sit-ins.  I was living in California during the 2008 election and beamed with pride when my fellow statesmen voted for Barack Obama – the first time the state has gone blue since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

But now I find my beloved home state in a bit of an identity crisis.  On May 8, the citizens of North Carolina will vote on Amendment 1, a: 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.

The fact is though that gay marriage is already against the law in North Carolina and has been since 1995.  The amendment also contains four words that make this much more than a gay marriage issue: only domestic legal union.  It now will take away rights from heterosexual couples that are in domestic partnerships, unmarried but long term partners, or any other situation besides marriage.

Additionally, the economic repercussions could be catastrophic for NC, which already has an unemployment rate around 10%.  Heterosexual and homosexual partners not “married” could lose health benefits for dependents and partners, the ability to make financial and health emergency decisions, among other issues.  And the message this amendment would send to potential new employees and businesses could easily persuade them not to come to the state.

I recently spoke with a family friend who also serves in the state legislature about the amendment.  He explained to me that to defeat the amendment, young voters must come out in strong numbers, just as we did in 2008. Amendment 1 goes against all the values and morals I learned growing up in North Carolina. It will be close - according to recent Public Policy Polling results, 56% of the respondents support the amendment, but only 1/3 actually knew what the bill would do.  7% actually thought the amendment would legalize gay marriage. This is my generation’s civil rights movement and hopefully one day the North Carolina history books will talk about this the same they do the Greensboro sit-ins.

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