North Carolina families are a primary target for the Amendment.
The Amendment’s broad language says “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” As a result, hundreds of thousands of families who falls outside of this definition could potentially be harmed by this Amendment, because:
The Amendment bans all other legal relationship recognitions. In addition to writing into our state’s founding document a permanent ban to marriage equality—as state law already does—this discriminatory measure prohibits North Carolina from ever passing civil unions; and strips the domestic partnership benefits currently offered to unmarried employees by local governments, including Asheville, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro, and Mecklenburg, Durham and Orange Counties.
The Amendment Impacts the Health of Thousands of North Carolinians.
In 2011, the American Medical Association (AMA), the country’s largest professional association of physicians adopted a policy position declaring that excluding same-sex couples from marriage is discriminatory and reaffirming existing AMA policy to support relationship recognition of same- sex couples as a means of addressing health disparities faced by those couples and their families. The policy states in part, “Our American Medical Association: (1) recognizes that denying civil marriage based on sexual orientation is discriminatory and imposes harmful stigma on gay and lesbian individuals and couples and their families; (2) recognizes that exclusion from civil marriage contributes to health care disparities affecting same-sex households; (3) will work to reduce health care disparities among members of same-sex households including minor children; and (4) will support measures providing same-sex households with the same rights and privileges to health care, health insurance, and survivor benefits, as afforded opposite-sex households.”
- In fact, a recent August 2011 resolution by the American Psychological Association, the country’s largest professional association of psychologists, supporting full, legal marriage equality adds that “emerging evidence suggests that statewide campaigns to deny same-sex couples legal access to civil marriage are a significant source of stress to the lesbian, gay and bisexual residents of those states and may have negative effects on their psychological well-being.”
Studies suggest that anti-LGBT marriage amendments exacerbate LGBT stigma in ways that create public health consequences and increased economic costs. In fact, an article by Mark Hatzenbuehler et al. found that in states with constitutional amendments, LGBT people reported increases in mental distress resulting in mood disorder (36.6% increase), generalized anxiety disorder (248.2% increase), alcohol use disorder (41.9% increase), and psychiatric comorbidity (36.3% increase). The researchers believe that the negative campaigns that go along with ballot initiatives are a primary reason for the increases in mental distress. The study found that LGB people living in non-amendment states did not report any significant increases in mental distress. Since North Carolina already has a statutory definition that limits marriage to opposite-sex couples, a constitutional amendment is unnecessary legislation carrying with it detrimental public health consequences for a fast-growing population of same-sex couples.
- According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, political and religious debate over same-gender marriage “has intensified an already unstable climate for gay men and lesbians in our society. The lack of societal tolerance, acceptance, and support that gay and lesbian individuals, couples, and their children experience can and does affect their psychosocial and physical health and safety.”
In fact, the Amendment impacts basic protections for all unmarried couples—both same and opposite-gender—and their children. The Amendment prevents the state from giving committed couples rights to allow them to order their relationships, including threatening basic hospital visitation if their partner is incapacitated, their ability to determine the disposition of their deceased partner’s remains, and ability to make medical and financial decisions; invalidates trusts, wills, and end-of-life directives by one partner in favor of the other; and undercuts existing child custody and visitation rights that are designed to protect the best interests of North Carolina’s children and sending a terrible message to kids that their state and their neighbors consider them second-class citizens, undeserving of the same basic protections.
Also, the Amendment threatens domestic violence protections for all unmarried couples. The Amendment will harm victims of domestic violence, calling into question NC’s domestic violence laws. This happened in states like Ohio, where the passage of a less restrictive amendment meant dozens of batterers were released from prison—before courts could intervene—simply because they were not married to their victims, further endangering the victims and their children. As Ohio’s Cleveland Plain Dealer put it, “Ohio voters who approved a constitutional amendment that denied legal recognition of unmarried and gay couples probably didn’t envision the measure being successfully used as a defense in domestic violence cases.”