Recognition of same-sex unions in North Carolina

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The U.S. state of North Carolina does not recognize same-sex relationships. North Carolina has denied marriage rights to same-sex couples by statute since 1996. A state constitutional amendment that was approved in 2012 reinforced that by defining marriage between a man and a woman as the only valid "domestic legal union" in the state and denying recognition to any similar legal status, such as civil unions.

Some cities in the state recognize domestic partnerships, and some make that status available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Statute[edit]

On June 18, 1996, the North Carolina State Senate passed a bill banning same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriage out of state by a vote of 41-4. That same day, the North Carolina House of Representatives voted 98-10 in favor of the bill. It was ratified and went into effect on June 20, 1996.[1][2][3][4]

Constitution[edit]

On September 12, 2011, the North Carolina House of Representatives voted 75-42 in favor of North Carolina Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and any "domestic legal union."[5][6][7] On September 13, 2011, North Carolina State Senate voted 30-16 in favor of the bill.[8][9] On May 8, 2012, North Carolina voters approved the of the amendment by a vote of 61.04% to 38.96%.[10]

The amendment added to Section XVI of the North Carolina Constitution:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.

North Carolina was the 30th state, and the last of the former Confederate states, to adopt a constitutional amendment defining marriage so as to exclude same-sex couples.[11]

Federal lawsuits[edit]

Fisher-Borne v. Smith[edit]

On June 13, 2012, six same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit, Fisher-Borne v. Smith, that initially sought the right to obtain second-parent adoptions. In July 2013, following the June U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor, they amended their suit to challenge the constitutionality of the state's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples.[12] Briefing was completed on August 13, 2014.[13]

Gerber v. Cooper[edit]

Three same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in April 2014 seeking North Carolina's recognition of their marriages, which were established in other jurisdictions. Briefing was completed on August 13, 2014.[13]

General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper[edit]

On April 28. 2014, the United Church of Christ, joined by a coalition of Baptists and Lutherans, filed a lawsuit[14] arguing that North Carolina is unconstitutionally restricting religious freedom by criminalizing its clergy members for blessing same-sex marriages.[15] The lawsuit argues that Amendment One, which prohibits same-sex couples from marrying, violates the constitutional rights of same-sex couples in North Carolina while denying clergy members the religious freedom to perform these marriages.[16] On June 3, 2014, additional national religious denominations and clergy from across traditions have been added as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina’s marriage laws, General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper. The new plaintiffs include the Alliance of Baptists, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis in addition to Episcopalian, Jewish and Baptist clergy from across North Carolina.[17]

State's defense[edit]

On July 28, after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Bostic v. Schaefer held that Virginia's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced he would no longer defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage. He said that because all judges in North Carolina were bound by the Fourth Circuit's precedent, "today we know our law will almost surely be overturned as well. Simply put, it's time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward knowing the ultimate resolution will likely come from the United States Supreme Court."[18]

Domestic partnership[edit]

Map of North Carolina counties and cities that offer domestic partner benefits either county-wide or in particular cities.
  City offers domestic partner benefits
  County-wide partner benefits through domestic partnership
  County or city does not offer domestic partner benefits

Some cities and counties in North Carolina recognize domestic partnerships. Registered domestic partners are legally recognized only by the jurisdiction in which they registered. The partnerships allow the extension of health benefits to employees and their domestic partners. Some cities in the state recognize both same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partnerships. According to 2010 census data, there were 228,000 North Carolina couples in domestic partnerships and 12 percent of those were same-sex couples.[5][19]

The cities and counties in North Carolina with domestic-partner registries are:

Carrboro[edit]

Since 1994, Carrboro permits domestic partnerships between any two persons who are residents of the Town of Carrboro or at least one of whom is an employee of the Town of Carrboro.[20]

Chapel Hill[edit]

Since 1995, Chapel Hill allows registration of domestic partnerships[21] between any two adults who live together in a long-term relationship of indefinite duration, with an exclusive mutual commitment in which the partners share the necessities of life and are financially interdependent, and also are not married to anyone else, do not have another domestic partner and not related by blood more closely than would bar their marriage in the state.[22]

Durham[edit]

In 2003, Durham became the first city to allow domestic-partner benefits to employees.[23]

Durham County[edit]

In 2003, Durham County became the first county to allow domestic-partner benefits to employees.[24]

Orange County[edit]

In 2003, Orange County, North Carolina, Commissioners approved a measure to extend benefits to domestic partners of county employees.[25] Benefits available include dependent health, dental, life, retiree health insurance, funeral leave, sick leave, shared leave and family leave of absence.[25] The estimated cost for one percent of Orange County (or seven employees) to participate in domestic partner benefits was $17,000 for the county's contribution.[26]

Greensboro[edit]

Greensboro began offering domestic-partner benefits in 2007.[27] The town council was initially concerned that by offering domestic-partner benefits they would be in violation of North Carolina's crimes-against-nature law as well as federal equal-protection laws if they offered those benefits to same-sex couples and not unmarried heterosexual couples.[28]

Mecklenburg County[edit]

Mecklenburg County passed policy allowing domestic-partner benefits for county employees and their partners in December 2009.[29] The approved plan defines "domestic partners" as two same-sex people in a "spousal like" and "exclusive, mutually committed" relationship in which both "share the necessities of life and are financially interdependent".[30]

Asheville[edit]

On February 22, 2011, the City Council of Asheville authorized the creation of a Domestic Partner Registry to recognize same-sex relationships, becoming the first city in Western North Carolina to do so. The registry became available on May 2, 2011.[31]

Charlotte[edit]

In 2013, Charlotte created its own domestic partner registry, separate from Mecklenburg County.[32]

Buncombe County[edit]

In 2013, Buncombe County became the 4th North Carolina county to allow domestic partnership benefits.[31]

Hospital visitation[edit]

In 2008, the North Carolina General Assembly added a provision to the Patients’ Bill of Rights affording hospital visitation rights to same-sex couples though a designated visitor statute.[33]

Public opinion[edit]

A March 2009 Elon University Poll survey found that that 48.3% of North Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 20.8% supporting same-sex marriage, 27.5% supporting civil unions or partnerships but not marriage, 44.4% favoring no legal recognition, 4.2% supported some other opinion, 2.8% didn't know, and 0.4% refused to answer.[34]

A February 2011 Elon University Poll survey found that that 56.8% of North Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 27.8% supporting same-sex marriage, 29% supporting civil unions or partnerships but not marriage, 35% favoring no legal recognition, 6% supported some other opinion, 1.1% didn't know, and 1.1% refused to answer.[34]

A September 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 31% of North Carolina voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 61% thought it should be illegal and 8% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 54% of North Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 25% supporting same-sex marriage, 29% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 34% favoring no legal recognition and 3% not sure.[35]

A September 2011 Elon University Poll survey found that that 61.6% of North Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 33% supporting same-sex marriage, 28.6% supporting civil unions or partnerships but not marriage, 34.4% favoring no legal recognition, 2.2% supported some other opinion, 1.7% didn't know, and 0.2% refused to answer.[36]

A November 2011 Elon University Poll survey found that that 59.4% of North Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 33% supporting same-sex marriage, 26.4% supporting civil unions or partnerships but not marriage, 34.5% favoring no legal recognition, 2.9% supported some other opinion, 2.5% didn't know, and 0.6% refused to answer.[36]

A December 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 30% of North Carolina voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 57% thought it should be illegal and 13% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 56% of North Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 27% supporting same-sex marriage, 29% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 40% favoring no legal recognition and 3% not sure.[37]

A February 2012 Elon University Poll survey found that that 63.6% of North Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 35.8% supporting same-sex marriage, 27.8% supporting civil unions or partnerships but not marriage, 31.9% favoring no legal recognition, 1.7% supported some other opinion, 1.9% didn't know, and 0.9% refused to answer.[36]

A March 2012 Elon University Poll survey found that that 66.6% of North Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 37.5% supporting same-sex marriage, 29.1% supporting civil unions or partnerships but not marriage, 29.2% favoring no legal recognition, 2.1% supported some other opinion, 1.2% didn't know, and 0.9% refused to answer.[36]

A May 2012 Public Policy Polling survey found that 34% of North Carolina voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 57% thought it should be illegal and 9% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 53% of North Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 27% supporting same-sex marriage, 26% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 43% favoring no legal recognition and 4% not sure.[38]

A May 2012 Public Policy Polling survey found that 34% of North Carolina voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 58% thought it should be illegal and 8% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 55% of North Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 29% supporting same-sex marriage, 26% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 42% favoring no legal recognition and 3% not sure.[39]

A February 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found that 38% of North Carolina voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 54% thought it should be illegal and 9% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 63% of North Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 33% supporting same-sex marriage, 30% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 37% favoring no legal recognition and 1% not sure. It also found that a majority of young North Carolinian's between the age 18 to 29 years old support same-sex marriage and that 56% of people living in the area code of 919 and 984 support same-sex marriage.[40]

An April 2013 Elon University Poll survey found that 43.2% of North Carolina residents support same-sex marriage, while 45.9% opposed, 10.5% didn't know or had no opinion, and 0.5% refused to answer.[41]

A December 2013 Public Religion Research Institute survey found that 47% of North Carolina residents support same-sex marriage, while 48% opposed, and 5% didn't know or refused to answer.[42]

A March 2014 Elon University Poll survey found that 40% of North Carolina residents support same-sex marriage, while 51% opposed.[41]

An April 2014 Public Policy Polling survey found that 40% of North Carolina voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 53% thought it should be illegal and 7% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 62% of North Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 36% supporting same-sex marriage, 26% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 34% favoring no legal recognition and 4% not sure.[43]

A May 2014 Elon University Poll survey found that 41% of North Carolina residents support same-sex marriage, while 46% opposed, and 13% don't know/no opinion.[44]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Senate Bill 1487 / S.L. 1995-588 (= H1452) S1
  2. ^ The Bill
  3. ^ North Carolina SB1487
  4. ^ "Chapter 51- Article 1". Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Zucchino, David (May 8, 2012). "North Carolina Passes Ban on Gay Marriage". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Senate Bill 514 "Defense of Marriage" (Amendment 1)". Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Marriage Amendment Would Affect Many People, Panel Says". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  8. ^ DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE. 3RD ED.
  9. ^ ROLL CALL Legislative Session Day 97 (09-12-2011)
  10. ^ Weiner, Rachel (May 8, 2012). "North Carolina Passes Gay Marriage Ban Amendment One". The Fix by Chris Cillizza (blog of The Washington Post). Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Marriage Amendment passes in North Carolina by double-digits," The McDowell News, mcdowellnews.com, May 9, 2012, accessed May 9, 2012
  12. ^ "Gay marriage cases in 5 states offer broad view". Washington Post. January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "Pending Marriage Equality Cases: North Carolina". Retrieved August 24, 2014. 
  14. ^ "General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper". Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  15. ^ "North Carolina’s Gay-Marriage Ban Is Challenged by Church". New York Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Freedom to Marry in North Carolina". Freedom to Marry. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Clergy and same-sex couples seek the freedom the marry and religious freedom in North Carolina". Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  18. ^ Snow, Justin (July 28, 2014). "Federal appeals court rules Virginia same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional". Metro Weekly. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  19. ^ Blades, Meteor. "North Carolina Voters Approve Anti-Marriage Equality Amendment, Until They Learn What It Does". Daily Kos. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  20. ^ "3-2.1". Carrboro Town Code: Chapter 3. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Town of Chapel Hill: General Policies". Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Town of Chapel Hill: Domestic Partnership". Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Durham Votes to Allow Benefits for Domestic Partners". WRAL-TV. April 7, 2003. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. 
  24. ^ "9:00 A.M. Worksession - Agenda". Durham County Government. September 2, 2003. Retrieved April 4, 2012. "In conjunction with the County Attorney's legal opinion that only same-sex domestic partner benefits can be offered to County employees without the violation of the Commissioners' oaths of office, the Human Resources Department has completed the actions necessary to make this offering possible." 
  25. ^ a b "Orange County, NC To Offer Partner Benefits". December 1, 2003. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Orange County Commission Agenda Action Items". September 21, 2004. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012. 
  27. ^ "May North Carolina Local Government Employers Offer Domestic Partner Benefits?". University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. November 2009. Retrieved April 4, 2012. "In North Carolina, only Durham and Orange counties, the cities of Durham and Greensboro, and the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro offer domestic partner benefits." 
  28. ^ "Greensboro To Move Forward on Domestic Partnership Benefits". Archived from the original on April 21, 2012. 
  29. ^ "North Carolina County Passes Domestic Partner Benefits Despite Defamatory Comments from Commissioner Bill James". Archived from the original on April 21, 2012. 
  30. ^ Comer, Matt (December 16, 2009). "Mecklenburg Commissioners Approve DP Benefits". Archived from the original on April 21, 2012. 
  31. ^ a b "Domestic Partner Registry Available May 2". April 27, 2011. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. 
  32. ^ Charlotte council approves domestic partner benefits, scraps capital plan
  33. ^ State ensures gay hospital visitation rights
  34. ^ a b Elon University Poll: "Majority of N.C. residents oppose constitutional ban on same-sex marriage" September 30, 2011 , accessed May 8, 2013
  35. ^ Public Policy Polling: "NC opposes marriage amendment" September 07, 2011, accessed April 6, 2013
  36. ^ a b c d Elon University Poll: "Elon University Poll" November 7, 2011, accessed May 8, 2013
  37. ^ Public Policy Polling: "Perdue remains down to McCrory by 10, would romp Faison" December 9, 2011, accessed December 17, 2011
  38. ^ Public Policy Polling: "Dalton, McCrory, Amendment lead in North Carolina " May 6, 2012 , accessed April 6, 2013
  39. ^ Public Policy Polling: "N.C. African Americans shift toward same-sex marriage" May 17, 2012 , accessed April 6, 2013
  40. ^ Public Policy Polling: "McCrory Disapproval Worsens" February 13, 2013, accessed April 6, 2013
  41. ^ a b Elon University Poll: "Elon Poll: N.C. residents oppose several legislative proposals" 4/17/2013, accessed May 8, 2013
  42. ^ A Shifting Landscape
  43. ^ Public Policy Polling: "McCory still unpopular, opposition to Gay Marriage declines" April 10, 2014 , accessed April 10, 2014
  44. ^ "Elon Poll: Residents more upbeat abou N.C. but mixed on social issues". Elton University. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 

External links[edit]