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North Carolina Constitutional Amendment One to
prohibit same-sex marriages (SSM), civil unions, etc

Part 5: 2012: Pre-vote Poll. Fraud? Results.
What will be the effects of this amendment?

Sponsored link.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey immediately before the vote:

PPP conducted a poll of likely North Carolina voters on the weekend before Tuesday, 2012-MAY-08 when the vote is scheduled.

Results are:

  • 55% favor the amendment;
  • 39% oppose it;
  • 6% are undecided or refused to answer.

The opinions of about 1,000 voters were sampled. The margin of error is ±3.1 percentage points.

With a 16 percentage point advantage, there is no possibility that the amendment will be rejected.

Pollster Tom Jensen said that many voters still don't understand what the amendment would accomplish. He noted that most North Carolinians support some legal recognition for same-sex couples which would be banned by the amendment. He said:

"Opponents of the amendment had an uphill battle in convincing voters that it was anything other than a referendum on gay marriage, even thought it does go a lot further than that." 1

The core problem may be that most religious and social conservative information sources are describing Amendment 1 as a simple ban on same-sex marriage. Meanwhile LGBT groups, religious liberals, civil rights groups are pointing out the devastating effects that the Amendment will have on unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

But just as many -- perhaps most -- liberal voters tend to discount all conservative information sources, many -- perhaps most -- conservative voters tend to discount all liberal information sources. So the truth about the Amendment is simply not propagating through the culture.

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Author's comments:

I just couldn't resist adding a reader's comment to the article in the Charlotte Observer from which the above information was derived:

"One has to credit the expertise of religious and social conservatives in  North Carolina. Various recent surveys showed that 61% of voters would NOT vote for an amendment that banned same-sex marriage if it also banned domestic partnerships and civil unions. Amendment One does exactly that. Yet 55% of the voters are expected to vote for it.

I predict that opinion makers from around the world will study the selling of this stealth amendment to the public for years to come. Whether they are trying to sell the concept of "clean coal" or the idea that smoking is good for your health, they will have much to learn here." 1

I found it interesting that this article gathered only five comments, including mine, by Noon the next day. Another article in the Charlotte Observer that discussed whether President Obama was born in the U.S. was published on the same day. It accumulated 121 comments.

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2012-MAY-08: Rumors of election fraud concerning Amendment 1:

The Huffington Post reports on rumors of fraud in connection with the Amendment 1 ballots. It seems that residents of the state who are currently 17-years-of-age but who will turn 18 by election day on NOV-06 can vote in the statewide primary. However, they cannot vote on Amendment 1. So, a special ballot design was created for this minority of residents which does not include Amendment 1.

There are suggestions that some people who are currently 18 years of age and older and who live in "heavily anti-Amendment 1 precincts" like Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Raleigh etc. are being handed the special ballot without provision for the Amendment 1 vote. Huffington Post is asking people who have experienced this to phone 1-866-OUR-VOTE in order to help the campaign's field team investigate. 2

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2012-MAY-08: Initial results:

The polls closed at 7:30 PM. Policymic reported the initial results. As of 08:40 PM, with almost 900,000 votes counted:

  • 59.04 were in favor of the Amendment
  • 40.96% against. 3

By the next morning, with 2.15 million votes counted, the results were 61.3% in favor and 38.7% opposed. The final count is not expected to deviate much from these values. 4

The Amendment passed, thus eliminating any possibility of civil unions, domestic partnerships, or same-sex marriage in the state until and unless the Amendment is first repealed by the voters at some time in the future.

The only other path would be for fraud to be proven that was so widespread that a court would declare the Amendment vote null and void. Another vote might then be scheduled for voting day on NOV-06. With an intense educational program to acquaint the public with the scope of the Amendment, it might be possible to reverse the vote.

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What will be the effects of this Amendment?

Essentially all of the promotion for this Amendment was designed to create the fiction that its sole purpose was to prohibit same-sex marriage in North Carolina. By amending the state constitution, some claimed that this prohibition would be beyond the powers of the Legislature and state court system to change. However, in reality, the amendment was designed to attack the rights and protections of all unmarried couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex. The people of North Carolina were being played, very effectively, as suckers.

Three professors at the University of North Carolina School of Law, Maxine Eichner, Barbara Feders and Holning Lau, and one law student, Rachel Blunk, prepared a deep analysis of the "potential legal impact" of the amendment. 5

Their report's executive summary states:

  • The Amendment would become effective on 2013-JAN-01.

  • The proposed Amendment would not simply place this state’s current statutory prohibition of same-sex marriage into the North Carolina Constitution, as its sponsors seek. Instead, the proposed language is problematically vague, untested, and threatens to upend years of settled law.

  • In prohibiting state recognition or validation of 'domestic legal unions,' the proposed Senate bill would introduce into the Constitution a phrase that has never been used in any prior statutory law in North Carolina, never been interpreted by its courts, and never been interpreted by courts in any other state. Taken as a whole, the bill’s language is sufficiently vague, and its scope significantly unclear, that it would enmesh our courts in years of litigation to untangle its appropriate meaning. Moreover the eventual result of judicial interpretation of the Amendment would be uncertain. It could, however, be interpreted to upend completely the very minimal legal rights, obligations, and protections now available to unmarried couples, whether same-sex or opposite-sex."

    The Amendment could be construed by courts to:
    • Prevent the courts from enforcing private agreements between unmarried couples, therefore encouraging the wealthier members of couples to avoid marriage so that they will not be subject to obligations to transfer property;

    • Interfere with child custody and visitation rights that seek to protect the best interests of children;

    • Invalidate protections against domestic violence to members of unmarried couples;

    • Interfere with end-of-life arrangements, such as wills, trusts and medical powers of attorney, executed by unmarried couples;

    • Invalidate domestic partnership benefits currently offered to same-sex and opposite-sex couples by local municipalities;

    • Prevent courts from enforcing private employers’ agreements to provide benefits such as health insurance to employees’ domestic partners.

  • The vague and untested language of the Amendment would therefore cause real harm to a broad range of North Carolina citizens. The proposed Amendment could be interpreted to strip the increasing number of unmarried heterosexual couples of their ability to order their relationships and property through contract, deny legal protection against domestic violence, and cut them off from custody of their children. By the same token, committed same-sex couples in North Carolina, who are already precluded from marrying, would also no longer have access to these minimal protections. Even if courts did not ultimately adopt a broad interpretation of the Amendment’s language, these couples’ rights would be uncertain during the inevitably long period of time that it took for these issues to work their way through the courts. The Amendment’s broad sweep would also interfere with municipalities’ freedom to determine domestic partnership benefits for their own employees. It could also undermine private employers’ efforts to attract top employees to North Carolina by providing employee benefits to domestic partners, as the courts and public medical facilities may not be permitted to recognize those benefits. Finally, the breadth of the Amendment’s language and its untested terminology will significantly tax the resources of North Carolina courts, which will be charged with interpreting its scope. 5

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. John Frank, "Final poll gives North Carolina marriage amendment clear advantage," 2012-MAY-07, Charlotte Observer, at: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/
  2. "North Carolina Amendment One Voters Facing Possible Election Fraud As They Hit The Polls: Report," Huffington Post, 2012-MAY-08, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  3. Jake Horowitz, "North Carolina Primary: LIVE Results, Excitement for Ron Paul Growing ," Policymic, 2012-MAY-08, at: http://www.policymic.com/
  4. "North Carolina Amendment 1," Talking Points Memo, 2012-MAY-09, at: http://core.talkingpointsmemo.com/
  5. "Potential Legal Impact of the Proposed Same-Sex Marriage Amendment to the North Carolina Constitution," American Civil Liberties Association of North Carolina, 2011-JUN-06, at: http://www.acluofnc.org/  This is a PDF file.
  6. "NAACP statement on alleged Amendment 1 supporter comments," NAACP, 2012-MAY-03, at: http://www.protectncfamilies.org/
  7. "NC Psychoanalytic Society statement against Amendment One, 2012-MAY-04, at: http://www.protectncfamilies.org/
  8. "NC Family Law Professors explain the harms of Amendment One," You Tube, at: http://www.youtube.com/
  9. "Vote FOR Marriage NC" launches new TV ad refuting false claims about Amendment:" Vote FOR marriage NC, You Tube, at: http://www.youtube.com/
  10. "State Board of Education passes resolution against amendment," News Observer blog, 2012-MAY-03, at: http://projects.newsobserver.com/
  11. "North Carolina becomes 31st state to adopt marriage protection amendment," Vote FOR marriage NC, 2012-MAY-09, at: http://www.voteformarriagenc.com/
  12. "Amendment One passes in North Carolina," National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2012-MAY-08, at: http://thetaskforceblog.org/
  13. "Why marriage matters," from the Vote FOR marriage NC

Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2012-MAY-07
Latest update: 2012-MAY-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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