In regard to Amendment One, taxpayers of North Carolina have been sold a bill of goods that will cost them plenty in the long run. Only the insurance companies have reason to celebrate because they will no longer have to offer half-price health insurance to unmarried domestic partners.
My husband and I don't understand in what way our marriage has been "protected" except that we now can look down our noses at those who have fewer legal rights than we do. As we have never aspired to join any sort of social elite, we find no solace in that.
Before May 8, I tried to explain to various people the danger of this poorly written, politically concocted amendment by illustrating the following hypothetical scenarios:
1. Amanda is married to Jake. Jake is in prison for armed robbery and assault. Amanda has tried to divorce Jake, but, using the taxpayer funded legal library of the prison and his legal aid attorney, Jake has contested the divorce. Amanda has two small children and cannot afford the legal expense to fight this battle which has been going on for 5 years now. Two years ago Amanda met Larry, a single man her age with a good job. After awhile, Amanda and the children moved in with Larry. They cannot marry, but Larry's employer extends health benefits to domestic partners and minor children living in the home. NOT ANY MORE. Amanda and the children will no longer be covered and must now rely on taxpayer- (under)funded Medicaid. That is if if she can find a pediatrician for the kids and a doctor for her who will accept Medicaid.
2. Beulah and Sam are both widowed and in their 70s. They met on the tennis court a few years ago and struck up a warm friendship. After a year or so, Sam sold his condo and moved in with Beulah. They enjoy traveling, tennis, and have a lot of fun together. Sam is handy and has made a good many improvements to Beulah's house, adding a sunroom, a second, more accessable bath, and an inground pool, at his expense. They have not married so as not to complicate their estates and the proposed bequests to their grown children. They are both healthy and active and have not gotten around to filing living wills appointing each other as medical power of attorney. A large part of Beulah's income comes from her late husband's retirement, which she would lose for good if she were to remarry. Trouble is, if Beulah has a stroke, her daughter Stephanie automatically becomes Beulah's power of attorney. She has never approved of Sam because he is black (or Jewish, or Italian, or buck-toothed - take your pick). There is nothing stopping Stephanie from putting Beulah in a nursing home, kicking Sam out, selling the house, and leaving Sam with nothing but memories.
3. Susan and Steve met in college. They moved in together during their senior year. Steve became addicted to pain killing drugs after an automobile accident and several subsequent surgeries. Susan was not about to leave him during his ordeal, but was in no hurry to marry him, either. Steve wants to detox from the drugs, and has tried on his own (neither of them has health insurance) but always goes back. Although he hasn't yet been physically violent, he often flies into rages and tears up the home, breaking windows, electronics, furniture, etc. After several of these frightening incidents, Susan had Steve arrested for "domestic violence". She hoped that 60 days in jail would detox him from the drugs and make him more amenable to therapy and he would learn to live clean and sober. Along comes Amendment One and Steve is released from jail because "the only domestic relationship recognized by the State of North Carolina shall be marriage between one man and one woman" After four days without drugs, Steve is angry and out of control and will go after Susan like never before. Susan better head for the already over crowded and underfunded women's shelter and forget about the property she left behind in their apartment. Police can now only help those in similar situations if they are in a "domestic relationship" as defined by Amendment One. Theirs may or may not be covered under Statute 50B. It will be up to a judge to decide and that will take time.
4. Alison and Joellen are a lesbian couple who have lived together for 10 years. They wanted to have a family and so Alison had in vitro fertilization performed, became pregnant and gave birth to twin girls. The girls are seven years old now, happy, healthy and loved by both parents. However, if Alison is killed in an automobile accident, Joellen has no legal claim to the girls. They become wards of the court until such time as Judge Whatsisname, a noted homophobe, determines their fate. The girls love
both their parents, but they are only seven years old; what do they know? It's off to foster care for the girls. Thank you, Amendment One!
5. Speaking of kids, back to Amanda. Her youngest was only an infant when Jake went to prison. Larry is the only father the children have ever known. If anything happens to Amanda, the kids become wards of the state. Larry has no claim to them and you can bet that Jake will block any attempts Larry makes to protect Amanda's children.
And I could go on and on. Challenges to the amendment will be decided on a case by case basis by local judges, politically appointed local judges.
Since when does the majority vote for the rights of the minority? If that were the standard, African Americans would not be voting today. Neither would women. Amendment One is a travesty.
Bonnie M. Russell