On May 8, North Carolina citizens will have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution. The proposed amendment, referred to as Amendment One, would add Section 6 to the article, which would read:
Sec. 6. Marriage.
Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.
A legal domestic union affords the couple rights in matters such as medical decision-making, shared property, medical and life insurance coverage and responsibilities toward children. In addition, families, including children, receive protections under the law in matters related to legal domestic unions. These rights and protections would, if the amendment passed, no longer be available to as many citizens as they are today.
Amendment One would create a situation in which two criteria would have to be met before a citizen of North Carolina, in the United States of America, would be eligible for rights and protections intended to protect and strengthen families. First, the couple has to be joined by marriage. Second, the couple has to be one man and one woman.
U.S. Constitution: AMENDMENT XIV: Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
By placing stipulations in the law through an amendment to the state constitution, citizens of the United States would be unjustly denied their full rights to life, liberty, property and equal protection of the laws.
Many are in support of Amendment One citing religious beliefs to argue the definition of marriage. However, this is not a proposed amendment to the doctrine of a religious entity. Rather, this is being proposed by state government, which is charged with creating and enforcing laws that are in the best interest of and protect all citizens without regard to race, religion, sex or any other discriminatory factor. U.S. Constitution: Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
According to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, all citizens of the United States have the right to choose their religion and practice and live accordingly, as long as doing so does not infringe on someone else’s rights to do the same. The First Amendment also establishes separation of church and state, which in turn protects freedom of religion.
If a religious entity chooses only to marry a man and a woman, and chooses only to afford those joined by their definition of marriage certain rights, privileges and protections within their faith, they have the right to do so.
Those who believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman are not wrong to hold and defend their belief. However, the State of North Carolina is not the appropriate entity to define marriage. North Carolina must represent the best interests of all its citizens, without showing favor to one religious or personal belief over another.
Rather than add additional restrictions that would deny some people certain rights and protections, North Carolina should amend the constitution to ensure all couples, without regard to gender or type of union, have the same rights and protections under the law. By doing so, all North Carolinians, including innocent children, could enjoy life, liberty and property without being denied equal protection.
By protecting all citizens, we protect and strengthen all families. Only then will North Carolina be in alignment with the Constitution of the United States of America, allowing everyone to enjoy their birthright benefits of citizenship without discrimination — a dream on which our country was built.
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Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau.