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North Carolina Voters Decide Fate of Amendment One

The polls officially opened at 6:30 a.m. in North Carolina. Today voters will finally decide the fate of Amendment One, a controversial amendment to the state's constitution that has drawn the nation's attention due to its overly simplistic language: Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. The stakes are high because if the amendment passes, many will suffer, including unmarried straight couples.

Recent polls show that the people of North Carolina favor allowing couples the protections of same-sex unions. Amendment One would apply not only to same-sex couples but also to unmarried opposite-sex couples, who make up some 90 percent of the 222,000 unmarried households the 2010 Census found in the state. The radical ban would go farther than the constitutional marriage provisions in all but three states.

In addition to being poorly written, the amendment has harmful unintended consequences. Amendment One will constitutionally limit the definition of family to a marriage between one man and one woman and thereby lead to harmful unintended consequences for our children and all unmarried families. It will take away legal protections, health care and prescription benefits for many African American children and their parents. Unmarried women, children of unmarried couples, and senior widow(er)s will be harmed the most.

Support for Amendment One continues to slip, especially among African Americans. More and more fair-minded African Americans are speaking out against the Amendment and are realizing that the legislation has adverse implications for both same-sex and unmarried straight couples. Public Policy Polling’s latest data (released Tuesday, April 24) reveals support for the amendment from Black voters has dropped from 61/30 to 51/39. This is the lowest level of support PPP has found in monthly polling of the amendment since last October.

Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, has spoken out in opposition of any proposal that would alter the federal or state constitution to exclude any groups from equal protection under the law. Rev. Barber joins several Black pastors who have spoken out publicly about their stance against the amendment.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.