The vote on the amendment is May 8, 2012, so there is not a lot of time to educate voters around the state about just how extreme this ballot initiative is. Public Policy Polling’s latest data shows just how confused many North Carolinians are about the scope of the effect if this is passed. Most North Carolinians are fair-minded and want legal recognition for same-sex relationships…but some of these voters are still in favor of the amendment.

The story with the marriage amendment in North Carolina continues to be the same month after month: voters overwhelmingly support it but a majority of them also support civil unions, suggesting they might not be fully aware of how far the proposal goes. 58% say they’ll vote for the amendment to 32% who are opposed. It has overwhelming support from Republicans (77/16), majority support from independents (52/35), and even plurality support from Democrats (47/43).

At the same time 56% of voters in the state support either gay marriage (27%) or civil unions (29%) with only 40% thinking there should be absolutely no legal recognition for same sex couples.  About 20% of North Carolinians support legal recognition for gays and plan to vote for the marriage amendment. Getting those folks to change their minds will be the key for those hoping to defeat it.

That means a huge portion of NC voters must be educated about the amendment, and why they need to get out and vote on May 8.

The basic facts that voters need to know about the amendment — first, the language, which seems quite benign:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.

However, it will definitely:

  1. Ban any possibility of civil unions or domestic partnerships
  2. It will revoke any municipal recognition of same-sex couples already in place
  3. Ban heterosexual domestic partnerships

Because of the broad language — and this is critical – it will likely jeopardize benefits offered to domestic partners and same-sex spousal equivalent couples by private companies and institutions. NC Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), an amendment opponent, outlined other effects of that discriminatory initiative in a guest post on the Blend.

It appears at a minimum:

  • To change the rules of legal recognition of joint parenting rights; Legal recognition of a child’s relationship to her parents
  • Eligibility for public housing and housing subsidies
  • Potentially, access to employer based health and other benefits by partners as well as non-biological not jointly adopted children
  • Access to Medicaid and Medicare benefits
  • Ability to enroll non bioligical children in public schools or to authorize emergency medical care for them
  • Ability to make health care decisions for incapacitated partners
  • Ability to obtain life insurance
  • Affect on many deeds, trusts and wills
  • And, enormously affects the reach of domestic violence laws of this
    state–precisely the reason the domestic violence coalition opposed this bill;
  • The amendment probably costs those who receive SSDI and Medicaid benefits from a disability and who now live in domestic partnerships some 25% of their benefits under the federal marriage penalty — thus dramatically affecting many seniors and other citizens who have no idea the effect this law might have on their lives.

This message needs to get out there.

* NC Rep. Rick Glazier: Why the Anti-Marriage Amendment Must be Defeated
* NC: state legislator Marcus Brandon debates ill-informed, anti-gay pastor about amendment
* NC NAACP chair Rev. Dr. William Barber electrifies Equality NC conference with open letter opposing marriage amendment
* The unholy trio of anti-LGBT groups pushing NC marriage amendment
* NC: New Elon poll – all ages, races oppose marriage discrimination amendment