NC legislature proposes “Defense of Marriage” bill
March 25, 2005
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In an effort to ban the rights of lesbian, gay, transgendered and bisexual North Carolinians, State Senator Jim Forrester introduced Senate bill 8, which restricts equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Specifically, according to the General Assembly of N.C., the proposed bill states that the “marriage is the union between one man and one woman at one time, and this is the only marriage that shall be recognized in this state.”
Forrester instituted the bill on Jan. 31, which denies not only equal marriage rights, but any domestic partnership, civil unions or similar relationships among the GLBTQA communities in North Carolina.
Along with Senator Forrester, there are 20 other co-sponsors who support the bill titled “Defense of Marriage.” This is Forrester’s second try to propose the bill, which was blocked in July, 2004.
Equality NC, an organization for the defense of gays, lesbians, transgender, and bisexuals in North Carolina, rallied against the bill with the gay community last year to prevent the first attempt.
According to The Raleigh News & Observer, 61 percent are in favor of the amendment if the bill is in on the ballot during May 2006 elections. First, the bill must pass the House. If passed by the Senate, it will go to the voters in the 2006 elections.
“Not only is it like (the State Senate and legislators) are shutting all the doors to the bill, but they’re shutting and nailing the lid down permanently” said Kathryn Schmidt, director of Guilford’s women’s studies program.
If the bill passes, not only will the gay community be banned from any civil union, or same-sex relationship, but other benefits will be in danger as well.
“The language of the bill is so broad, it could prevent private companies from extending domestic partner benefits to their employees,” according to Equality NC online.
Yet, Forrester told The Raleigh News & Observer that the law will only apply to marriage rights and that private companies, cities and towns could offer benefits.
Before the 2004 attempt at the “Defense of Marriage,” a 1996 law banned same-sex marriage within the state of North Carolina. Yet, this year, the amendment calls for change and proposes a strictly defined bill not only in defense of marriage, but civil unions, domestic or similar partnership.
“I have gay and lesbian patients. I think they’re very nice people” said Senator Forrester, also a family doctor. “I just don’t want them to get married is all.”
There are 38 states that prohibit gay or lesbian couples from marrying, according to Stateline.org. And since Bush’s endorsement of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriages, more than 30 states have proposed similar amendments their constitutions.
“The present law serves the state and her people fine,” said N.C. Senate leader Marc Basnight. “I don’t like amending the constitution unless there is a need.”
Currently, the bill is still being debated. For more information on this issue, visit www.equalitync.org, or www.ncga.state.nc.us/homePage.pl.