Obviously, if you believe that homosexual people deserve equal rights, you’re going to vote against Amendment One. But there are very good reasons to vote against it even if you believe homosexuality is sinful, especially if you consider yourself politically and economically conservative.
1. Amendment One will cost North Carolina taxpayers a lot of money, while delivering absolutely no benefit. It’s virtually certain that a same-sex couple will challenge this provision in court, and the litigation will cost immense amounts of money. Money that will come out of our paychecks. In the meantime, Amendment One doesn’t make same-sex marriage any more illegal in NC than it already is.
2. It is unconstitutional. The Constitution of the United States supersedes all state constitutions. And under the US Constitution, this amendment is illegal for two reasons. First, it imposes religious rules through the government. (And if you think that’s OK, or it’s all right as long as there’s no explicit reference to religion, ask yourself how you’d feel if a group of Muslim legislators proposed an amendment that requires women to have their hair covered in public.) Second, it denies equal protection of the laws to all citizens. Thus, Amendment One violates the first and fourteenth amendments to the US Constitution.
3. It could have terrible unintended consequences for children, women, and for our economy. The amendment is worded in a terribly broad way. It doesn’t say “Marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman,” or “No one may marry someone of the same sex.” It says “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” That language entails the prohibition on state agencies, and possibly even private companies, to recognize any domestic legal partnership other than straight marriage.
Sure, it is possible that in the end, some courts will eventually interpret the amendment as still allowing domestic violence protection, child health insurance, and other rights unmarried partners have now (whether gay or straight). But legal battles take lots of time and money. Is it really OK with you that a battered woman might have to litigate at the trial level, the appellate level, and finally the Supreme Court of NC before getting a restraining order from her violent live-in boyfriend? Is it worth it, for the sake of simply reiterating how much we hate gay marriage, to give health insurance companies a convenient excuse for denying the claims of children whose parents aren’t married? Is it a good, conservative decision to give companies a reason to avoid NC because the status of their employees’ benefits would be uncertain?
Remember that in every legal case, in every health care coverage dispute, in every child custody hearing, there are two sides who will use every legal tool at their disposal. Sure, you as an individual may be able to interpret Amendment One and conclude that it’s not intended to disrupt domestic violence protections and so on. But in each legal battle that involves these issues, the defense lawyer for the abusive partner, the lawyer for the insurance company, the absentee parent who suddenly decides to uproot a child from the only family she’s ever known, they will all brandish Amendment One for their side, and they will drag the case through every level of the court system they can. Even if, finally, the sane side prevails, there will be terrible misery, chaos, and expense in the meantime.
And for what? What does Amendment One offer to counterbalance these risks? Nothing. If everyone votes against Amendment One, gay people still won’t be able to get married in NC. So why are we willing to risk all these expensive, morally troubling outcomes for it?
Everyone in NC should go vote AGAINST!