It would constitutionally exclude North Carolina’s estimated 186,000 households with unmarried partners (91 percent of which are heterosexual couples) from the legal, economic, and insurance-based benefits of state-recognized union.
In addition, children raised by unmarried parents may lose access to health insurance offered via domestic partnership benefits, and many domestic violence protections will not apply to unmarried couples.
The impact on LGBT youth is also a concern. At a time of increasing awareness of bullying and social isolation, the intolerant language in this amendment could serve to intensify these problems.
Beyond social justice, the implications for economic development are no less important.
The amendment would act as a deterrent to same-sex couples seeking employment in North Carolina, weakening the state’s talent pool.
And by stripping local governments of their authority to extend benefits to domestic partnerships, as discussed above, the real income of many North Carolina households would be effectively reduced.
This policy also risks running counter to the development of arts and culture in our state.
Many artists support or identify with non-normative expressions of gender and sexuality. This amendment would send a clear message to the artistic community that some partnerships would no longer be welcomed.
Art and cultural production contribute more than 5 percent of the state’s gross domestic product, so if artists move elsewhere, or if they choose to produce their work in other states, this could negatively impact the state economy in a meaningful way.
The impact of this amendment within our health system threatens to cause harm in ways which go beyond the insurance coverage concerns already raised.
The amendment would jeopardize the ability of one member of an unmarried couple to visit a partner in the hospital or make emergency medical and financial decisions.
Less tangibly, Amendment One, combined with similar legislation across the country, may even have an impact on the way the nation conducts foreign policy.
The United States aspires to be a leader in safeguarding the dignity of all people abroad. Domestic discrimination will blunt the ability of the United States to champion human rights abroad.
The rise of other economic powers necessitates that the United States maintain its diplomatic attractiveness abroad. Any decline in U.S. soft power provides space for other nations to contest its international presence.
After considering Amendment One from a variety of policy perspectives, the magnitude of its net effects is vividly apparent.
This amendment would affect the more visible and familiar negative externalities, such as weaker economic growth and public health, but also less obvious damages to our state.
It is our view that rejecting this amendment is imperative to maintaining the rights of North Carolina stakeholders. This is a chance for every North Carolinian to demonstrate to the world that in the Tar Heel State, “liberty and justice for all” will always be defended.