One year ago last week, 61 percent of North Carolinians voted to preserve the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman in our state Constitution.
North Carolinas vote was historic, because the people chose to dig their heels in and refuse to succumb to bullying and deception.
Throughout the campaign, the amendments opponents attempted to scare N.C. voters into believing a parade of horribles would rain down across the state. The opposition predicted the marriage amendment would be bad for business, private businesses would suspend domestic partner benefits for employees, unmarried domestic violence victims would lose legal protections, children would be harmed, gays and lesbians would be prevented from making end of life arrangements, and the sky would fall.
So what about that parade of horribles? Well, it turns out none of those predictions have come true.
Is the marriage amendment bad for business? Well, no. In fact, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce, there were 42,699 more people employed in North Carolina in March of 2013 than one year ago. Unemployment figures have dropped from 9.5 percent last May when the amendment passed to 9.2 percent. Further, business projects were up 2 percent, jobs were up 4 percent, and investment was up 1 percent. These are hardly figures that indicate preserving marriage in our state Constitution has hurt business.
And what about those same-sex benefits? Opponents claimed it would result in private businesses denying same-sex partner benefits a claim rendered moot by the amendments language (which states that it does not prohibit private contracts) and has proven to be false in application. Companies that offered benefits to same-sex partners before the amendment passed are still doing so.
One of the most outrageous arguments opponents made was that the marriage amendment would invalidate protections for unmarried domestic violence victims, specifically gays and lesbians. This unfounded legal argument even became the subject of the oppositions television commercials, showing an assistant district attorney from Wake County thumbing through files of domestic violence cases that would be dismissed if the amendment passed.
Of course this was ridiculous then, and is now. Victims of domestic violence are protected by law regardless of their sexual orientation or marital status. The marriage amendment did nothing to alter this and there has not been a single domestic violence case in the state affected by the marriage amendment in the last year.
Honestly, one year after the marriage amendment passed in North Carolina, not much has changed. The parade of horribles has not arrived. Jobs and businesses have not left the state or turned their noses up at locating here. Homosexual and lesbian couples can still have relationships with each other. They can still get employee insurance benefits for their partners. They can still be protected under the law from the domestic violence of their partners. They can still obtain custody and visitation rights. They can still enter into private contracts such as end of life arrangements like wills, trusts and powers of attorney. They can still vote and work and live in our state.
What is different is that marriage between one man and one woman is now in the state Constitution, where a state judge cannot overturn it. And no matter how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the California Marriage Amendment, North Carolina is better off for having passed an amendment that insulates it from a state lawsuit or a federal lawsuit like Californias. Voters recognized that natural marriage is the bedrock of our society, and that government should acknowledge and support its value to North Carolina, not change it.
Tami Fitzgerald is the executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition.
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