NORTH CAROLINA FAMILY LAW PROFESSORS SPEAK OUT AGAINST AMENDMENT ONE

By | November 23, 2014

In a statement released yesterday, Family Law experts at every school of law in North Carolina spoke out against the certain and potential harms posed by Amendment One, the proposed Amendment to the North Carolina Constitution that would bar legal recognition, in any capacity, of any relationship between couples of any orientation except marriage between a man and a woman.

This statement comes in response to a position paper released by three professors at Campbell Law School challenging the validity of concerns raised by legal scholars about the impacts of Amendment One.

State Representative Rick Glazier and State Senator Josh Stein, both practicing lawyers, released the following joint statement:

“While a lack of unanimity among legal scholars about complicated issues is not surprising, great consideration must be given to the experts in the field of law at issue. Experts in Family Law at every one of our state’s law schools have studied this issue and reached the same conclusion – the proposed Constitutional Amendment represents a number of certain negative impacts for unmarried couples in our state, and because it contains such vague and untested language, could very well lead to even more harmful outcomes, including the loss of domestic violence protections for unmarried women and their children, and the loss of health care benefits for unmarried partners.

We stand with these Family Law experts from law schools across the state and share their very real concerns about the impact this amendment would have for unmarried families, women, children and our state as a whole. Further, as lawyers, we fundamentally reject the suggestion we should add to our state’s Constitution, our foundational legal document, language that has been neither defined nor tested in our courts.  Constitutions exist to structure government and protect liberty. This amendment does neither.”

Rep. Rick Glazier (J.D., Wake Forest School of Law) and Senator Josh Stein (J.D., Harvard University) are sitting members of the North Carolina General Assembly.

STATEMENT FROM FAMILY LAW PROFESSORS ACROSS NORTH CAROLINA

We are family law professors who teach at every law school in the state of North Carolina. We speak on behalf of ourselves, rather than our institutions. Based on our professional expertise, the language of the proposed North Carolina amendment is vague and untested, and threatens harms to a broad range of North Carolina families. The amendment is phrased more broadly than most similar amendments in other states, and would therefore likely be construed by courts more broadly than in other states. The amendment would certainly ban same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships, and would very likely ban the domestic partnership health insurance benefits that a number of municipalities and counties currently offer to same- and opposite-sex unmarried couples. It also threatens a range of other protections for unmarried partners and their children, including domestic violence protections and child custody law. We are aware that some law professors at Campbell Law School think otherwise. In our view, this disagreement simply underscores the fact that Amendment One is vaguely worded and that it is not possible to know how broadly it will eventually be construed.