April 26, 2012
Earlier this month, when North Carolina’s Governor Bev Perdue came out against Amendment 1 in a video release, she pointed specifically to the harms to women and to children of unmarried parents that could occur if the amendment were to pass. As she said, the stability of families would be in danger. Since the amendment would likely ban civil unions and prevent recognition of domestic partnerships in the state – because it broadly says that marriage between a man and a woman is the “only domestic legal union” allowed in the state – this means children’s health care is most likely one of the programs in danger, since it’s a benefit of currently existing domestic partnerships. Families could end up struggling to meet basic needs, not just for unmarried couples but for young, defenseless children.
— NC Democratic Party (@NCDemParty) April 25, 2012
Not to mention there are even more stark consequences for women. Domestic partnerships also allow couples to be protected against domestic violence through laws associated with the partnerships. The amendment could allow abusers even more access to their victims and take away any legal rights to fight against these attacks. In an era where women are already subjected to invasive, unnecessary medical procedures as a roadblock to health care they seek, why would anyone want to take away even more dignity and rights from women?
The Assistant District Attorney of Wake County, NC, put it in an even more pointed way:
Protect ALL Families @protectNC
Amily McCool, Asst DA of Wake Co: #Amendment1 would mean victims of domestic violence would have to marry their attacker for protection
This is, of course, assuming the attack happened within the confines of a heterosexual relationship and the woman could marry her attacker. A sad truth is that domestic violence can happen within a gay relationship as well, and those couples are in need of protection as much as anyone. However, it is necessary to point out that domestic violence disproportionately makes women the survivor or victim of an attack, so blocking legal repercussions will only exacerbate the long list of right-wing government-induced problems women are already facing.
Protect ALL NC Families released a web ad last night, from a woman whose sister was murdered by her boyfriend, talking about the disastrous effects the amendment would have on attempts to protect women from violence and murder by abusive partners:
Here’s how their email tells her story:
I believe Amendment One is yet another in a long line of legislation that puts women in harms way.
And I’m not the only one. Rep. Rick Glazier and Sen. Josh Stein released the following statement around the amendment earlier today:
“Experts in Family Law at every one of our state’s law schools have studied this issue and reached the same conclusion – the proposed Constitutional Amendment represents a number of certain negative impacts for unmarried couples in our state, and because it contains such vague and untested language, could very well lead to even more harmful outcomes, including the loss of domestic violence protections for unmarried women and their children, and the loss of health care benefits for unmarried partners.”
But it isn’t just the experts who are worried. Meet Andrea.
Andrea’s sister was murdered by her boyfriend.
And Andrea opposes Amendment One.
She’ll be voting against because she fears, like many North Carolinians do, that if Amendment One passes unmarried domestic violence victims could have fewer protections and face more uncertainty.
Where will I live? Where will I work? How will I stay safe?
Along with their opposition and the governor’s, North Carolina’s Attorney General Roy Cooper is opposed. He wrote that:
I am writing you today to let you know I am voting against Amendment One in next month’s primary elections on May 8th. I believe it is unclear, unwise and unnecessary. Amending our constitution demands careful deliberation along with precise language – both are missing here. Amendment One’s lack of clarity will also result in a significant amount of litigation on many issues which will be decided by courts for years to come. This should be avoided. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Attorney General and letting me share my thoughts with you about this issue.
But it’s about our children, too. A child’s stability is incredibly important and putting a child’s parents in legal jeopardy just based on hatred is really a cruel and unnecessary thing to do. Especially when lawyers and doctors say it will affect children’s health care. Pediatricians have come out in opposition to the amendment based on that. The North Carolina Psychological Association, North Carolina Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, North Carolina Chapter and the Carolinas, and the Chapter of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists have made statements about the medical effects on children:
Speaking for the North Carolina Pediatric Society, past president Peter Morris, M.D., said he worries if the amendment were to pass, “families of all types will find themselves with stresses, toxic stresses, that will affect their lives and that will affect their children’s lives. The North Carolina Pediatric Society opposes the ratification of Amendment One.”
That opposition was echoed by Raleigh psychiatrist Jean Aycock, who explained that because of the amendment’s far-reaching language, potentially impacting health care and legal safeguards for all unmarried, cohabiting households, 911,186 North Carolina children could be threatened by Amendment One, according to 2010 census data. “That’s almost one million North Carolina kids who stand to be impacted by Amendment One,” said Aycock. “This is not so much an anti-gay amendment as an anti-child amendment.”
Speaking about the amendment he called “toxic” and “shocking” because of its potential impact to the health care of all children of unmarried couples in the state, Dr. Mansfield said “one half of my pediatric practice comes from children…and this amendment does something that I think is quite catastrophic. We have one million kids who may lose services and the ability to be seen in the health care system…and so I stand as a veteran, an ordained Baptist minister, I stand as a North Carolina Senator, and I stand as a [physician], to say that I am with my colleagues that we are against this toxic and shocking amendment.”
The opposition to Amendment One by North Carolina’s Medical and Mental Health professionals is reflective of national perspectives as well – the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the National Association of Social Workers have all gone on record as opposing laws that restrict legal recognition and protections for unmarried couples, which is precisely the effect Amendment One would have if passed by voters on May 8.
I don’t know why people feel the need to target children because they don’t like gay people, but there you have it. This amendment is just one more front in the ongoing war on women and children; hopefully we can win this one.
1. Contribute to the campaign on ActBlue so they have the resources they need to get our message out.
2. Sign up for a Courageous Conversation about Amendment One with someone you know in NC.
4. Download social media tools and yard signs to show your opposition to Amendment 1.
5. Volunteer to Call for Equality – a GOTV phone banking effort against Amendment 1.