The Harmful Truth About Amendment One

While the language of Amendment One seems simple, the consequences of this dangerous constitutional rewrite are anything but. We ask that you:

What North Carolina’s primary ballot will say and what it asks of you: 


  •  Ban civil unions & strip domestic partnership benefits.
  •  Eliminate health care, prescription drug coverage and other benefits for public employees and children receiving domestic partner benefits.
  •  Threaten protections for all unmarried couples in North Carolina.

  •  Protect health care for families and children.
  •  Protect domestic violence protections for unmarried women.
  •  Protect hospital visitation and end-of-life directives for unmarried couples.
  •  Protect seniors from losing survivor benefits.
  •  Protect All NC families.


Amendment One protects no one. Instead it automatically strips North Carolina families and children of basic health care, threatens parental rights, and throws basic protections like domestic violence laws into what many are calling  “legal chaos.”

A child of an unmarried parent could lose their health care and prescription drug coverage, putting the child’s health at risk.

A child could be taken away from a committed parent who has loved them their entire life if something happens to the other parent.

Amendment One threatens existing child custody and visitation rights that are designed to protect the best interests of a child.

Amendment One bans all other legal relationship recognitions—prohibiting North Carolina from ever recognizing civil unions and domestic partnershipsThousands of North Carolinians rely on these legal protections. Removing these rights creates far-reaching and long-lasting harms for families from all walks of life.

Amendment One would interfere with protections for unmarried couples to visit one another in the hospital and to make emergency medical and financial decisions if one partner is incapacitated.

North Carolina is committed to protecting domestic violence victims whether they’re married or not. Under Amendment One, that could all change. 

Our existing domestic violence protections extend to single as well as married women – but that protection may conflict with Amendment One’s limited definition of what constitutes a family, leaving many unmarried women and children at risk.

In Ohio, the passage of a similar amendment meant relationships other than marriage were no longer recognized under domestic violence statutes. Ohio’s choice to enshrine a similar amendment into their constitution meant that domestic violence statutes protecting unmarried women were unenforceable until the state’s Supreme Court unraveled the legal mess some three years later. 

In the meantime, dozens of batterers were released from jail, and cases were thrown out of court simply because abusers were not married to their victims. This put unmarried women and their children in danger.

“Ohio voters who approved a constitutional amendment…probably didn’t envision the measure being successfully used as a defense in domestic violence cases.” 

- Cleveland Plain Dealer

Amendment One’s language is even more broad and overreaching than the Ohio amendment, leaving our constitution open for an even more dangerous result. 

Even Sen. Dan Soucek, an Amendment One sponsor, acknowledged the possibility that the far-reaching constitutional rewrite could threaten North Carolina’s domestic violence laws. “There is some question in the courts as to how that will all work out,” he told The Huffington Post, one month prior to the primary vote (April 9, 2012).

If Amendment One passes, North Carolina faces a lengthy legal fight to define the consequences of the amendment’s vague, untested language. While lawyers and judges are busy determining the fate of unmarried victims of domestic violence across the state, many will be forced to live through the immediate consequences. Protective orders could be invalidated. Batterers released from prison. Women and children placed back in harm’s way. Even housing and employment opportunities for victims of domestic violence could be threatened.

“I know there were instances of people who went back into violent relationships and were battered again and injured again because they had no legal protection.” – Nancy Neylon, Executive Director, Ohio Domestic Violence Network.

As a result, attorneys across the state are now preparing for increased caseloads, representing countless new domestic violence victims, with the possibility of dangerous results. 

During an April 2, continuing legal education teleconference hosted by Legal Aid North Carolina, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Amily McCool told statewide attorneys charged with protecting some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, that with Amendment One the state is encouraging ” the public policy that you have to marry your abuser to get domestic violence protections.”

We need to step up for our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, and our friends.

Amendment One has the power to undo all that we’ve worked for to protect North Carolinians from domestic violence. We must protect all unmarried domestic violence victims and their children by voting AGAINST Amendment One.

Early voting begins April 19.  The final vote is cast May 8. VOTE AGAINST [ X ].