House Majority Leader Skip Stam opened today’s debate on the proposed marriage amendment with the following statement: “The measure we have before you today is exactly the same policy about marriage as was adopted by this assembly in 1996. That is, there’ll be no same sex marriages performed in North Carolina, and those performed outside North Carolina will not be recognized. There’s no difference in the policy.”
That’s only partially true.
In terms of “marriage,” he's correct. Current NC law says “Marriages, whether created by common law, contracted, or performed outside of North Carolina, between individuals of the same gender are not valid in North Carolina."
But current NC law doesn’t address the issue of civil unions, an option many gay and lesbian North Carolinians say could give them some, if not all, of the rights of marriage, like hospital visitation, inheritance and child custody rights.
The new amendment would outlaw civil unions as well as marriage between people of the same sex.
As Stam said today, “What this is saying is, no matter what you call it, if it’s an intimate relationship connected with the family, the only relationship that’s recognized in NC is that of one man and one woman.”
A PPP poll last week found that a narrow majority of North Carolinians (52%) favor some legal recognition for same-sex couples: 28% favor civil unions, and 24% favor full marriage rights. An Elon University poll of citizens (not voters) in February also found more than half support some legal recognition of same-sex couples. A Civitas poll in August did not ask about civil unions.
Watch the debate for yourself here.