It didnt take Mecklenburg County commissioner Bill James long after Amendment One passed to start targeting eliminating benefits the county provides same-sex and other unmarried couples. In an email Wednesday to County Attorney Marvin Bethune and County Manager Harry Jones, he made his pitch:
Since Amendment One has passed, when will we [county commissioners] get a memo or something that outlines what changes we need to make to our health plan to be in compliance? I recall when the Democrats on the Commission forced the issue and added these benefits for homosexuals that a number of legal experts said it was illegal then. Now that Amendment One has passed it obviously is illegal to offer this benefit as there is now only one domestic legal union recognized in the state
In a reply, Jones said:
Our legal and human resources staffs are evaluating the Amendment, as well our policy, to determine what, if any, potential impact the Amendment will have on Mecklenburg County. As soon as we complete our evaluation we will brief the board on our findings, conclusions, and policy options available to you.
James also tweeted hours after the vote: Now that #4Marriage #amendment 1 has passed we need to eliminate those illegal benefits.
This is, of course, one of the fallouts many legal scholars predicted would occur if N.C. voters approved the constitutional ban lawmakers put on the ballot, one that not only banned same-sex marriage which was already banned in the state by law anyway, but also declared invalid as a domestic legal union any relationship other than that of one man and one woman married to each other. We hope other commissioners wont follow James lead in trying to eliminate benefits. They should look to Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Asheville, whose leaders have reportedly already vowed to keep such benefits.
They also should pay attention to what the city of Charlotte is doing. City Manager Curt Walton included same-sex benefits in his budget proposal outlined Wednesday. The benefits would start in January 2013. Good for Walton in sticking to this proposal, the day after the amendment vote.
Its hardly surprising to see James once again hawking intolerance and prejudice. He said that voters in his district, by making him the winner in his District 6 primary race Tuesday, showed they like what he does so hell keep doing it. The rest of us especially his commission colleagues should keep telling and showing him WE dont like what he does and will fight to keep him from getting his way.