Guest Post – Vote No on Amendment One – Here’s Why!

This post is courtesy of Shannon Gilreath, a law professor at Wake Forest University School of Law and a nationally recognized expert on issues of equality, sexual minorities, and constitutional interpretation. His book, Sexual Politics: The Gay Person in America Today (2006), was nominated for two prestigious awards: the ALA Stonewall Prize for Non-Fiction and the Lambda Literary Foundation Award. His innovative casebook, Sexual Identity Law in Context: Cases and Materials, published by Thomson-West (2007), is designed to put the law concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people into a social context. An advocate of interdisciplinary study, he teaches courses in Constitutional Law, Sexuality and Law, Religion and Law, and Gender Studies in the law school.  He is an active speaker for gay rights causes, frequently consults on cases, and has been widely cited in journals and the popular press. 

I do not favor gay marriage.  I do not personally believe that gay people should marry in this state or any other.  Of course, this conviction is based on reasons likely very different from those of Amendment One’s supporters. 

The pertinent observation is that Amendment One is not about marriage.  Perhaps the greatest lie of this election season, which we all know is full of lies and half-truths, is that it is.  If the legislators giving us Amendment One had wanted to write a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, they could have done so in simple language.  I’ll even suggest some language here: “Marriages between individuals of the same gender are not valid in North Carolina.”  Incidentally, North Carolina already has a law that says just that, enacted in 1995.  Clearly, if our legislators believe that a majority of us want a law banning gay marriage, they know how to write one.  And yet, that is not what they’ve written in this instance.  Instead, Amendment One, before voters on May 8th, says: “Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” 

The principal problem with this language is that the phrase “domestic legal union” does not appear anywhere else—not once—in the North Carolina general statutes.  So we don’t really know what kinds of “domestic unions” will be affected by Amendment One.  But Amendment One’s vagueness makes its potential applications far greater than its propagandized limitations.  The reality is that more heterosexuals will be affected by this Amendment than homosexuals.  Here are some possibilities.  Amendment One will first mean that unmarried heterosexuals receiving partner benefits from public employees can no longer receive those benefits.  So if you are an unmarried heterosexual with a registered domestic partner for purposes of your public employer’s health insurance plan, you will no longer be able to carry a person to whom you are not married on your insurance. 

Amendment One also substantially limits your ability to contract around marriage should you choose to do so. There are all sorts of reasons people who love each other do not get married.  Seniors, especially, who may be widows or widowers, may choose not to marry because of complications with pensions or survivor benefits.  The reasons people in love do not marry are many and, frankly, such people don’t owe the rest of us any explanations; most of us assume that we are free to love without marriage.  So let’s imagine Bob and Sue love each other and live together for many years.  For reasons sufficiently important to them, they do not marry.  Nevertheless, they want to execute agreements about how their assets will be divided should their relationship end.  Currently, under North Carolina law, they can do so.  If Amendment One becomes law, they cannot.

Similarly, Bob may want to give Sue his healthcare power of attorney.  Currently, he can do so.  After Amendment One, he cannot.  Or let us imagine that Bob and Sue have lived together for many years and Bob wants to leave Sue a piece of property in his will, perhaps the very house they have shared during their lives together.  Let’s also imagine that Bob has relatives who would like to have his house after he dies.  Currently, absent some showing of fraud or coercion, these relatives would have a difficult time setting aside Bob’s bequest to Sue.  But in a North Carolina where Amendment One is law, Bob’s relatives need only claim that Bob made his bequest to Sue because he loved her.  A court could then void the bequest because it was the result of a domestic union that was not a marriage, the recognition of which would violate North Carolina’s (new) public policy.  In this new North Carolina, Bob would have an easier time leaving his house to his cat than to the woman he loved.  These scenarios seem absurd, and they are.  Yet this is the North Carolina that Amendment One’s proponents in our state’s legislature are trying to create. 

These scenarios might seem simply ridiculous to readers who do not believe they will be affected by Amendment One’s long arm.  So to those readers I pose this question: Would you want to live in a North Carolina in which your daughter could be beaten up or otherwise abused by her boyfriend but could not obtain a domestic violence protective order restraining him?  In Ohio, for example, where an anti-gay marriage amendment significantly more precise than the proposed N.C. amendment (and thus less open to bizarre judicial interpretations) passed in 2004, prosecutors and judges interpreted the “pro-marriage” amendment to do just that.  For a three-year period, women and children endangered by “domestic partners” had no recourse to the law.  Finally, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the amendment could not be used to deprive a class of people of the law’s protection.  But that ultimate decision does not make up for the broken lives and broken bones that accrued in the meantime.  If you are somehow of the impression that North Carolina’s elected judges will be more reasonable than Ohio’s judges, then you have likely had little contact with our justice system.  In any event, are you willing to bet on your daughter’s life? 

These concerns are acute for me because I am a lawyer.  Of course, there is no requirement that North Carolina’s legislators be lawyers.  And yet they cannot claim to be ignorant of the problems the Amendment poses, because many of us have been telling them for months.  In response, they’ve gotten on TV or in the newspapers and called us lunatics or liars or both.  They know the problems.  We’ve told them.  They know that many of the problems I’ve just pointed out to you have, in fact, occurred in other states with better drafted laws.  The only conclusions I can draw from this about Amendment One’s legislative supporters is that they are either incredibly dim or they hate gays so much that they are willing to live with the collateral damage to everyone else.  Neither possibility commends them as responsible legislators. 

If you want an Amendment that bans same-sex marriage, demand that your legislators give you one.  This is not that Amendment.  The potential damaging and far-reaching consequences are too great.  Vote “no,” and make them start again.

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44 Responses to Guest Post – Vote No on Amendment One – Here’s Why!

  1. Sharong says:

    I appreciate the perspective of a lawyer, however I have one question about the article. You said

    “Nevertheless, they want to execute agreements about how their assets will be divided should their relationship end. Currently, under North Carolina law, they can do so. If Amendment One becomes law, they cannot.”

    In fact, the language states just the opposite:

    “Sec. 6. Marriage. Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.” [Source: NC Voter Guide 2012]

    Can you address that?

    Thanks!

    • VoteNO says:

      Wills and trusts are legally binding documents that must be filed with the courts.. it’s not like a private agreement which is like a real estate transaction or a sell of goods.

      • Sharong says:

        Thanks. So if I understand from your reply and Bob’s below, the amendment could alter legally-biding contracts? That is not the way I read the language. I appreciate the clarification.

    • Aggie DeHetre says:

      This amendment is taking away peoples God given right to choose how they live their lives. It was poorly written and I agree with the attorney. If it were about not allowing gays to marry then it should never have been written in the first place as that law already stands. I see this hurting alot of innocent people and children and it needs to be thrown in the trash & rewritten and I am a God fearing married straight woman by the way. If you think about it logically people cant afford to live on their own this day & time especially if you live on minimum wage or social security. They shouldnt be forced to marry just so they can have protection from the law, their child taken away from them if they split or loose their ins. coverage especially since we are being threatened by Obama trying to make it a law that you must have ins. or you can be fined. The wording of the amendment is untested by any court in this nation & being so vague a judge could interpret it in untold different ways. If you would like more examples of this research Ohio’s law which was more defined than ours and you will see the hardships this law caused them in the yrs. after it was passed. Looking at the overall picture I see this amendment tying up our court systems and costing people alot of money fighting for their God given right to choose. I would like to see our overpaid congressmen live on minimun wage. At one time in all our lives we were all unmarried and I sure am glad I was given the right to choose and not just jump into marriage so I could have benefits. Before you vote remember Jesus said let he who is without sin cast the first stone so be careful to not let your hatred of gays stand in the way of the overall picture.

      • Sharong says:

        Where in my question did I say I hate gays? In fact, I do not. I have many dear friends who are gay and I love them very much. I was approached by a very articulate and informed person who encouraged me to delve into the exactly what the law says and that is what I am doing. Asking questions is the only way for me to understand. I vote and I want to make certain that when I cast a ballot I understand what I’m saying with that power. We should all take the time to do that.

    • WakeLaw13 says:

      Yes, VoteNO is correct. Wills, power of attorneys, and so on are not actually contracts. Contracts require bargains for the exchange of services, goods, etc. (called “consideration”). When you make out a will or trust that benefits a person, that beneficiary does not have to give you anything in return for that benefit, hence it is not a contract.

  2. Bob Bollinger says:

    I would also like to see Professor Gilreath’s analysis on that question. My assumption is that an agreement based on mutual love and respect will not be enforceable because that relationship will not be “valid or recognized” under the law.

    There is precedent for this—in the early part of the 20th century, in 1913 I think it was, long after slavery ended, our state Supreme Court invalidated the will devise of a white man who left some land to his black former slave. The Court said no, the former slave cannot own that land the white man left him, because our law (I believe it was in our Constitution in effect at the time) said that a black person or former slave could not inherit from a white person. Therefore the dead white man’s wishes as set forth in his will were not honored, and an injustice was done to the black person, due only to his status as a former slave. I ran across that case by accident a decade ago and I was simply appalled that our Supreme Court did that.

    I am also a lawyer and I agree fully that the amendment will prevent a woman of any age from getting a domestic violence restraining order under NCGS Chapter 50B unless she is currently married to the abuser. That is because 50B lists certain “protected personal relationships” between men and women, and this amendment invalidates all of them except marriage. A district court will therefore no longer have the authority to impose a restraining order on the abuser in those non-marital but heterosexual relationships, because those relationships will no longer be “valid or recognized.” Neither a Judge nor the legislature can fix this stuff if the amendment passes. An amendment trumps all the other forms of law. The Constitution would have to be amended again to fix it. The Professor is just dead on with his conclusions.

  3. Bob Bollinger says:

    I believe the old NC Supreme Court case that I recall from reading it about a decade ago is probably Jervis v. Lewellyn, 130 NC 616, 41 SE 873 (1902). In it a white man wrote a Will in 1860 leaving his property to his wife, but upon her death, some of the property would go to his slaves, who were specifically named. One of them was named Lucy. The man died in January 1861 but his wife did not die until 1899. The slave Lucy also died in 1861, after the man died. After the widow died, the estate of Lucy tried to collect from the man’s estate the money he left Lucy, but the court ruled that because Lucy was a slave when the Will was written and when she died in 1861, her estate in 1902 was not entitled to get the money the man left her. This is because the law in 1861 stated that a slave could not own property or money. Of course, slavery ended in 1865. So, there is precedent from our Supreme Court holding that a person may not be able to inherit from an otherwise valid Will simply because a state law says that a person cannot own property due to her status. The Marriage Amendment says that non-marital domestic union relationships will not be valid or recognized in this state, and that is somewhat analogous to the 1861 law that prohibited a slave from owning or inheriting property due to the slave’s status as a person who was not recognized as a full fledged citizen. Perhaps Professor Gilreath will take a look at that case and tell us whether he thinks it is significant in this debate about the amendment.

  4. Will says:

    If this passes, I’m leaving.

  5. brandonlewis says:

    The Marriage Amendment Will Not Affect The Enforcement Of Domestic Violence Laws. Opponents would have you think the Amendment obliterates our domestic violence law. The cases they use as authority are Ohio appellate cases later overturned by the Ohio Supreme Court which found the domestic violence statutes consistent with the state’s marriage amendment. In Kansas the outcome was the same. Marriage amendments have had no effect on the enforcement of domestic violence statutes. 30 other states have marriage amendments. In all 30 states domestic violence laws continue to be enforced.

    • Thanks for the comment. To say that the Amendment definitely will not impact domestic violence laws is probably not any better prediction than to say that it definitely will. I wrote about this issue in one of my posts, and I came down in the middle between the two sides of this debate. What I see as a real concern is the fact that there are over 250 district court judges in this state, and I doubt they will all rule the same and that it could take years to get it right, with collateral damage along the way. This would not have the potential to occur if the Amendment were correctly worded to focus only on marriage, as the original house bill did, rather than on the untested phrase of “domestic legal union”. Let’s hope Amendment One does not impact domestic violence, but why take the chance and risk the lost cases along the way until the appellate courts weigh in.
      https://ncamendmentonetruth.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/so-what-is-the-truth-about-the-nc-domestic-violence-laws-and-amendment-one/

    • WakeLaw13 says:

      Your conclusions are not correct. The only other state with the same language is Indiana, so your evidence from those other states is not relevant.

      If a legal marriage between a man and a woman will be the only “legal domestic union” recognized by our legal system, our courts may not adjudicate claims of domestic violence between unmarried couples. A requirement of NC domestic violence statutes is for the people involved to be in a domestic relationship. Right now, no one really knows how courts will treat this language because it’s not defined in any law, case, etc. in NC, so you cannot say with any certainty what will happen. Dean Reynolds at Wake Law is one of the few leading experts in Family Law in NC (she helped write NC’s family law bible – Lee’s NC Family Law!) and she even says this could drastically affect DV claims in NC.

  6. Sperby Piner Jr says:

    Same sex marriages or unions:
    What is at stake is respect for individual autonomy and equality under the law. At stake is an individual freely choosing the person with whom to share an exclusive commitment? The issue here is not the moral worth of the choice but the right of the individual to make it.

  7. Owen Taylor says:

    Brandon Lewis,
    It is not correct for you to say that Marriage amendments have had no effect when you cite two states where there was sufficient effect to result in multiple court cases that had to be resolved by State Supreme Courts. The impact may have been reversed, but it clearly had an effect on enforcement of domestic violence statutes for a couple of years. It is also a weak argument to compare this amendment to amendments in other states since they do not use the exact same language, nor are they subject to the same state constitution or legal system. State law is not one size fits all. An effective counter argument would address the specific legal arguments based on NC case law and precedent, and recognize that poorly written laws often have unintended consequences, rather than casually dismiss these concerns.

  8. Bob Bollinger says:

    Brandon Lewis ignores the fact that decisions in Kansas and Ohio are not binding on NC courts or residents. The NC amendment and its effect on our Chapter 50B Domestic Violence law will be decided freshly by our courts, over a period of years and after much litigation, based on the actual language of the amendment and the actual language of the NC statutes. What happened in any other state with this general issue is totally irrelevant to how the NC courts will rule. Asserting otherwise, as Brandon Lewis does, is misleading and irresponsible. And legally ignorant.

    In my opinion as a lawyer who has handled many domestic violence cases over the years, the language of the Amendment is likely to be construed by many District Court judges and eventually by our appellate courts as invalidating the Chapter 50B restraining order protections for victims who are not married to their abusers. I discussed this with a retired District Court judge over the weekend and that retired judge agreed that the amendment arguably will have that result. I think this because of the way protected male-female domestic relationships are defined in 50B versus the very narrow and exclusionary defintion of male-female relationships in the amendment (ONLY marriages are “valid and recognized” domestic unions in our law under the amendment). Our judges cannot protect that which our Constitution, as amended, declares as “not valid or recognized.” I hope I am wrong about this, for the sake of battered women all over the state, but I suspect I will turn out to be correct. The Professor’s conclusion—vote this down and tell the legislature to do it right the next time if all they want to do is ban gay marriage—makes a lot of sense. The way it is written now, it has a lot of toxic side effects.

  9. jason stone says:

    Hyperbole much?

  10. Laurel says:

    The original comment on healthcare power of attorney is inaccurate and surprisingly ignorant coming from an attorney. I am a Hospice and Palliative Care nurse. NC is my home state, although I am a traveling nurse and have practiced in patients’ homes, acute-care settings such as hospitals, and long-term care facilities in New Mexico, St. Croix, Wisconsin, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC. In ALL of these settings and states the health care POA is ANYone the patient chooses, whether the person is a relative or not. There can be a problem if the person attempting to make medical decisions (AFTER the patient is incompetent or has come to the point of being unable to make decisions anymore) is not a relative and there is NOT legal paperwork in place, but as long as the patient is 18 years old or older, is competent, has appropriate mental status, etc. the POA chosen does NOT have to be a husband/wife! I have had MULTIPLE patients whose HC POA has been the homosexual/lesbian partner of the patient….most times with biological relatives (adult children, parents, etc.) that are also in the picture!

    • Bob Bollinger says:

      J.D. Bolick, your post makes no sense at all.

      Laurel, please stick to nursing. These are legal questions, not nursing questions. Those powers of attorney are all based entirely and solely on the underlying state laws. That is why they work. Mess with the law and they may not work anymore. Your experience is therefore irrelevant to the current question.

      • J.D. Bolick says:

        Bob, I don’t think being an internet troll qualifies you for judging legal questions either. Laurel is 100% correct that power of attorney is easily established outside of any recognized union, and Amendment One would do absolutely NOTHING to change that. Please educate yourself instead of acting like a jerk to people trying to inform you about something you clearly didn’t know.

      • Jason says:

        Laurel: despite what Bob has said, you are correct – the constitutional amendment will not affect who can serve as a healthcare attorney-in-fact. N.C. Gen. Stat. 32A-18 states: “Any competent person who is not engaged in providing health care to the principal for remuneration, and who is 18 years of age or older, may act as a health care agent.”

        For the record, I’m strongly opposed to the constitutional amendment. However, there are some major flaws in this article’s legal analysis (e.g., the healthcare power of attorney issue and the wills issue). I support an informed electorate, but I do not believe in misrepresenting the facts. I find it incredibly odd that a law professor would write an article that is so conclusory and absolute.

  11. Pingback: Guest Post – Vote No on Amendment One – Here’s Why! | NC Amendment One Truth « soultwist

  12. J.D. Bolick says:

    Shannon Gilreath’s post is both misleading and highly irresponsible to the point that I can only guess at the ulterior motive in posting such misinformation. It’s fair to say that Amendment One would prevent automatic conveyance of power of attorney or inheritance that currently comes from non-marriage domestic unions, but those things could still be established in exactly the same way that you can for anyone you’re not in a domestic union with. I am shocked and appalled that a Wake Forest professor would be so flagrantly deceptive.

    • cindylou says:

      J.D.
      You are absolutely right! I do not have a “Law License” like Bob but as a field social worker, I have knowledge of how protective orders, power of attorney, wills and legal agreements act and this article is very misleading.

  13. Bob Bollinger says:

    Hey, J.D., I have a Juris Doctorate and a law license. What about you? What are your qualifications to analyze and comment on a legal issue?

    I never said anything about the amendment affecting health care powers of attorney. I simply pointed out that a nurse is not the person who should be rendering legal opinions on it. As a licensed attorney I am certainly qualified to make that statement and render those opinions. I am positive I know more about legal matters than a nurse, just as a nurse knows more about nursing than I do.

    And it is quite clear that the folks who are being deceptive on this amendment are the proponents of it, not the opponents. Skip Stam was quoted in the Raleigh paper a couple weeks ago being dishonest about the civil law domestic violence issue. He pretended that “domestic violence” was a criminal law issue and answered accordingly. He was being intentionally deceptive even though he is a lawyer and certainly knows better.

    Every legally trained objective commentator in every forum has basically pointed out the same types of problems that Prof. G pointed out in his article. There are a lot of potentially adverse ramifications to this very poorly drafted amendment, and the people pushing it are aware of those opinions, but they are pursuing it anyway. That is irresponsible, but we will not know just how irresponsible until it passes and a couple of years of litigation over it have taken place. Like House Speaker Thom Tillis said recently, in 20 years the people of NC are likely to repeal it. (Like another failed idea that was known as “Prohibition.” )

    I think Jason’s post is correct about the POA. But on the wills issue, I posted an old case here yesterday that should cause people to stop and think. I believe that case did set a precedent in NC of people being denied their take under a Will simply because of their legal status. Since this amendment will negatively affect the legal status of persons in an unmarried domestic union, it could potentially affect the right of that person to take property under a Will due to their status. Again, if the proponents were actually telling the truth that this amendment is simply to ban gay marriage in NC forever, then they could have done that with much simpler and more straightforward language. But they lied and continue to lie. All these potential problems in heterosexual relationships could have been avoided easily. But, there seems to be an additional hidden agenda here behind this amendment.

    If this thing passes and some of these bad things do occur, then I suspect that the Republichristian legislators who pushed it will experience some blowback from the voters. That would be poetic justice. As a lawyer I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and this amendment is certainly an affront to our Constitution.

    • Aggie DeHetre says:

      Very well said. With so much controversy over this amendment it needs to be voted down & make them start again. This whole amendment was poorly written and I see all kinds of wolves in sheeps clothing behind it. It makes no sense at all for them to be drawing up an amendment such as this when there is already a law banning gays from marriage in NC. Our country is falling apart and they want to waste time on this matter. I’m not a lawyer or a nurse, its just plain commen sense.

  14. GA Mebane says:

    While I haven’t decided if I’m supporting or not supporting passage of NC Amendment One yet, this is very enlightening. I’m going to vote so I need all the information I can can get. Thanks for taking the time to write & post this information.

  15. Bob Bollinger says:

    GA Mebane, thanks for taking the time and effort to educate yourself about it before you case your vote.

  16. Chase Calon says:

    Vote no no no to this amendment.

  17. bentleyshoe says:

    This is one of the BEST articles I’ve read. NO ON ONE! Thank you for sharing this. I have FaceBooked it.

  18. nurse for life says:

    And how can our economy afford to support those who choose NOT to marry in order to receive benefits for medical, housing, food and Aid to Dependent Children? Just work in public health or in social services and you will see just how many folks develop a lifestyle that enslaves them to dependency on a system that cannot endure!

  19. Emma Thorne says:

    Thank you. Somuch pain and discrimination why add to it.

  20. lr says:

    “Fathom the hypocrisy of a Government that requires every citizen to prove they are insured… but not everyone must prove they are a citizen.

  21. Scott V says:

    Bob Bollinger

    You stated that it is quite clear that the folks being deceptive of this amendment are the proponents of it and not the opponents of it. Then explain why the ProtectNCFamilies.org coalition have run their deceptive ads against the marriage amendment? If you educated yourself on who makes up the coalition the you would find that the deception occurs equally on the opponents side. Why would they not run an ad campaign that clearly states that this amendment will prevent same sex marriage in the State? Clearly the majority of the coalition are proponents of same sex marriage. Instead they choose only to run ads that address the domestic violence and health care issues with the bill when their real agenda is to push same sex marriage!

  22. cindylou says:

    In NC you can obtain a restraining order against anyone, partner, no partner, whom ever is a threat to you… If you have issues with the law you can always do your homework and change your legal paperwork.

    • Bob Bollinger says:

      Cindylou- Under what legal authority can you get that restraining order? Currently, only under General Statutes Chapter 50B, which is the domestic violence civil law that is being discussed here. The only other way to get a restraining order against someone who is a threat to you is to go through the criminal courts. That can take months. You can get a 50B restraining order tomorrow if you need to. Our courts are not set up to give anyone a quick and easy restraining order except under Chapter 50B, and that is the very law that is going to be compromised by this amendment.

      And your comment “if you have issues with the law you can always do yoru homework and change your legal paperwork” really makes no sense. What are you trying to say?

      • cindylou says:

        Bob,
        You may obtain a Restraining order at any time of day or night (emergency relief; temporary orders) if you go to the local court and appear in front of a Magistrate due to a threat attempting to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causing bodily injury in the state NC and that also includes things such as stalking or sexual harassment.
        Complaining that some people want to execute agreements? That also can be done by an attorney or in some case simply a notary. Maybe it has not occurred to anyone that some of us also don’t marry our partners due to the fact that we would NOT want our domestic partners obtaining rights to anything at all including assets?
        That’s what I’m saying…

      • Bob Bollinger says:

        CindyLou, I think you are describing the process allowed by Chapter 50B, which is the very section of our law that is potentially at risk due to this amendment. You did not give us the “legal authority” to back up your argument, but if you know the statute cite, please share it and we can all look it up and see if you are correct. I have practiced law for more than 20 years in NC and I am not familiar with a statute other than Chapters 50B and 50C that would allow what you are talking about. But if I am mistaken, then give me the cite to the law so I can educate myself.

        The anti-stalking section of the law is Chapter 50C, which I do not think will be affected by the amendment. But the civil domestic violence law— Chapter 50B-1 —– lists all those protected “personal [domestic] relationships” under that law, and I think that most of those relationships will be rendered “invalid and unrecognized” by the State, which includes the courts, if the amendment passes. So, I ask you, how can the courts protect someone from abuse in one of those previously protected (and heterosexual) relationships, when the relationship is now unconstitutional? The court cannot do so, of course. Those portions of the domestic violence statute extending protections to unmarried people in dating relationships, and to divorced spouses, will no longer be valid or recognized in our law, because those relationships between men and women will no longer be valid or recognized. This is really not hard to grasp. Therein lies the problem with the wording of this amendment as it relates to our civil domestic violence law. Now, some lawyer disagree on this, and the truth is that none of us know exactly how our appellate courts will ultimately interpret this statute in light of the amendment. But legal cases from Ohio and other states are not binding on our courts.

        Some prosecutors are in the news this week on the “For” side stating that “domestic violence prosecutions will continue if the amendment passes.” I am sure that is correct, but it sidesteps the actual issue. The issue here is not criminal domestic violence prosecutions, which is what they are referring to, but rather, use of the civil restraining order law (Chapter 50B) by abuse victims. No one on the “against” side is asserting that criminal prosecutions will be affected by the amendment. Those “For” District Attorneys are being dishonest because they are intentionally misleading the public. They are intentionally talking about the criminal side of the law when the concern is about the civil side of the law.

    • RockinRobin says:

      Bob go back to law school…. A 50c would cover Abuse. – To physically or mentally harm, harass, intimidate, or interfere with the personal liberty of another….

      • Bob Bollinger says:

        Chapter 50B has more protections for people who are abused in a domestic relationship than does Chapter 50C. The two Chapters are simply not the same. 50C is not redundant.

      • Bob Bollinger says:

        Robin, if you were to read the rest of that definitional section of 50C, you would have noticed, perhaps, that 50C only applies when the victim and the perpetrator are “NOT involved in a personal relationship … as defined in NCGS 50B-1(b)” (emphasis added). So, by its very clear terms, Chapter 50C is not a substitute for the Chapter 50B domestic violence protections that are at risk from this amendment. Chapter 50C only applies to unlawful conduct when the perpetrator victimizes a stranger or mere acquaintance, and it does not apply between people who have dated or had a romantic relationship. See GS 50C-1(8) defining “victim.”

      • RockinRobin says:

        Oh Bob, you act as if people in NC can go around beating people up and not being able to get police protection. I am not sure how someone with a Law degree does not know this?! People go sit in a court room and watch what happens if you want proof. Friends, lovers, strangers, parents, children, whom ever can get a protection order. This is insane!

      • Bob Bollinger says:

        Chapter 50C is primarily used when a neighbor is harassing a neighbor, or in situations like that. Chapter 50B is the “domestic violence” protective order law, and due to the way the protected relationships in that law are defined, it is at risk from this amendment. A person can also get a restraining order in criminal court, but the defendant has a lot of due process protections that make the criminal court route too slow for victims of domestic abuse. Robin, you are not reading the entire statute in 50C, and you are only quoting part of it, and you are quoting it completely out of context. One cannot discuss a statute with any degree of reliability or credibility unless one reads the whole thing and considers the effect of other laws on it. In other words, intellectual honesty is required.

  23. Bob Bollinger says:

    Scott V- I am not pushing same sex marriage. I am concerned about all the single women who are going to get beaten to a pulp by their boyfriends and ex-husbands and who won’t be able to get a restraining order the next morning because of this badly drafted amendment. Some of them may die as a result of this amendment. I am concerned about the children of municipal employees who are going to lose their health insurance coverage the minute this thing passes, because it will immediately become unconstitutional for a city or county to provide health insurance benefits to the non-marital partner (and therefore that person’s children), whether gay or straight, of a municipal employee, because that relationship is suddenly “invalid and unrecognized.” Yeah, this is a real family-friendly amendment, all right.

    If the clowns in our legislature who are behind this amendment had simply wanted to ban gay marriage, all they needed was one sentence: “A marriage between two persons of the same gender shall not be valid or recognized in this State.” That is all the proponents needed to do. They had a chance to do that but they rejected that Bill. Instead, they passed another Bill with the current amendment in it, which is much, much more broad in its effect, and it will adversely affect various issues between men and women (and their children) who are in a relationship but are not married to each other, both gay and straight.

    Now why would those legislators want to do that? They obviously did it intentionally. Why doesn’t Skip Stam and his cohorts come clean about their real agenda here? Well, because if they did, this amendment vote would be a landslide against. You hear commentators talking about the Republican War on Women this year, and quite frankly, I think that may be exactly what this broad amendment is really about. Then again, it may simply be about Skip Stam self-dealing. I think he handles will contests in his law practice, and this amendment will probably cause an increase in those cases. So maybe this is really just the Attorney Stam Gets More Clients Act. Whatever hidden agenda is behind it, does not really matter because it is a bad addition to our Constitution for many and varied reasons. I hope everyone will vote against it.

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