Yesterday, the state of North Carolina voted in favor of Amendment 1, a constitutional civil rights violation of a bill that bans same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state. The amendment formally defines marriage as between a man and a woman, but the rest of the language of the bill is notably vague, leading to concerns that the rights of unmarried straight couples would also be in danger.
The concerns stem from the line stating, "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State." (Emphasis mine) Rights that could be stripped from couples in domestic partnerships or other unmarried couples include:
- Different child visitation and custody rights than married couples
- No legal recognition or basis of private agreements or understandings made between unmarried partners
- Legal documents such as wills and trusts between unmarried couples could be voided or interfered with by the State
- Employers would not be mandated to provide benefits (such as health insurance) to the partners of unmarried couples as they would with married couples
This is even more troubling when one realizes that there's a real possibility that many voters didn't know what they were voting for. The New York Times reported that just 36% of voters polled could correctly answer that Amendment 1 sought to legally define marriage and ban gay marriage - and 10% thought that it sought to legalize gay marriage. A whopping 27% (almost a third!) wasn't sure of what it aimed to do.
The United State's political climate is currently a hostile one, with legislation being passed left and right restricting the civil rights of its citizens. I'm reminded of an appropriate statement made by Thomas Jefferson (I know, I know - your history buff is showing, Kerishma! But bear with me), "But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual."
Shame on you, North Carolina. Shame.
(Image via MSNBC)
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