North Carolina’s constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and other types of recognition for same-sex couples marks its first anniversary May 8. So far, the amendment has had less immediate impact than supporters hoped, and much less impact than opponents feared.
You could call it a battle of dueling academics. The stand-off started with a report produced by family law professors at the UNC School of Law, which argued that Amendment One was vaguely worded and that it could cause major, unexpected ramifications for several areas of family law beyond same-sex marriage. That led to a rebuttal by three family law professors from Campbell School of Law, who argued that the report was poorly reasoned because judges could easily figure out the intent of the amendment and apply it narrowly to same-sex marriage.
Of the 55 words in North Carolina’s proposed constitutional amendment on marriage, three carry much potential for confusion: “domestic legal union.” As family law attorneys ponder how the amendment, if approved on May 8, would affect practice in areas like domestic violence, child custody and end-of-life decisions, they tend to focus on that phrase.
How would the passage of Amendment One affect the practice of law in North Carolina? Although there is much discussion regarding whether Amendment One should pass, there is less discussion on the amendment itself: its potential legal impact, its wording, its context in the legal history of the state. North Carolina Lawyers Weekly explores the [...]
Family law attorneys across the state, as they attempt to advise their clients about the amendment’s possible impacts, are struggling to predict how the courts will interpret "domestic legal union" -- a term that has never been used in any existing North Carolina statutes or case law.
Two polls measuring the likelihood of passage of Amendment One show significantly different results – but that split might be traced to how they asked the question.
The name “Amendment One” will not appear anywhere on the ballot North Carolina voters see on May 8. Instead, the proposition will simply be labeled “Constitutional Amendment.” Some advocates also refer to it as the “Marriage Amendment.”