Recognition of same-sex unions in North Carolina
|Legal recognition of
† Not yet in effect
North Carolina does not legally recognize any same-sex union, including civil unions and same-sex marriages. A state constitutional amendment was voted into effect on May 8, 2012, banning same-sex unions and defining marriage between a man and a woman as the only valid "domestic legal union" in the state. Before passage, state law had already restricted marriage to a man and woman in statute §51‑1.2. The constitutional amendment bans not only same-sex marriage but civil unions. 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.
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. The cities and counties in North Carolina with domestic-partner registries are the following:
Since 1995, Chapel Hill allows registration of domestic partnerships 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.
In 2003, Orange County, North Carolina, Commissioners approved a measure to extend benefits to domestic partners of county employees. Benefits available include dependent health, dental, life, retiree health insurance, funeral leave, sick leave, shared leave and family leave of absence. 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.
Greensboro began offering domestic-partner benefits in 2007. 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.
Mecklenburg County passed policy allowing domestic-partner benefits for county employees and their partners in December 2009. 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".
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.
In 2013, Charlotte created its own domestic partner registry, separate from Mecklenburg County.
A bill proposing a state constitutional amendment to ban all same-sex unions was passed (North Carolina Senate Bill 514) by the North Carolina House of Representatives on September 12, 2011, and by the North Carolina Senate, on September 13, 2011. The constitutional amendment appeared on the May 8, 2012, primary ballot and was approved by voters 61.04% to 38.96%, adding a new provision under Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution that reads:
"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."
In a poll released by Elon University on April 2, 2012, 29.1 percent of those polled support civil unions or registered partnerships providing most of the rights found in a civil marriage, and 37.5 percent of those polled support full marriage rights for same-sex couples. 29.2 percent oppose any form of legal recognition for same-sex couples.
The survey results over time are as follows:
Elon University Poll: April 2, 2012
|Which statement comes closest to your position on the issue||March 2012||February 2012||November 2011||September 2011|
|Oppose any legal recognition for same sex couples||29.2%||31.9%||34.5%||34.4%|
|Support civil unions or partnerships for same sex couples, but not full rights||29.1%||27.8%||26.4%||28.6%|
|Full marriage rights for same sex couples||37.5%||35.8%||33.0%||33.0%|
|Some other opinion||2.1%||1.7%||2.9%||2.2%|
Public Policy Polling surveyed 520 North Carolina voters between September 1 and 4, 2011, and received the following results:
Public Policy Poll: September 7, 2011
|Do you think same-sex marriage should be legal or illegal?||Their Opinion|
|Which of the following best describes your opinion on gay marriage?||Their Opinion|
|Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry||25%|
|Gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not marry||29%|
|There should be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship||43%|
|State legislators are trying to pass a Constitutional amendment that would prohibit the recognition of marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships for LGBT couples. If the election was held today, how would you vote for this amendment?||Their Opinion|
|Would vote for it||30%|
|Would vote against it||55%|
- LGBT rights in North Carolina
- North Carolina Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality
- Status of same-sex marriage
- Timeline of same-sex marriage
- Zucchino, David (May 8, 2012). "North Carolina Passes Ban on Gay Marriage". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
- "Senate Bill 514 "Defense of Marriage" (Amendment 1)". Archived from the original on April 19, 2012.
- "Chapter 51- Article 1". Archived from the original on April 19, 2012.
- "Marriage Amendment Would Affect Many People, Panel Says". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
- Blades, Meteor. "North Carolina Voters Approve Anti-Marriage Equality Amendment, Until They Learn What It Does". Daily Kos. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
- "3-2.1". Carrboro Town Code: Chapter 3. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012.
- "Town of Chapel Hill: General Policies". Archived from the original on April 19, 2012.
- "Town of Chapel Hill: Domestic Partnership". Archived from the original on April 19, 2012.
- "Durham Votes to Allow Benefits for Domestic Partners". WRAL-TV. April 7, 2003. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012.
- "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."
- "Orange County, NC To Offer Partner Benefits". December 1, 2003. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012.
- "Orange County Commission Agenda Action Items". September 21, 2004. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012.
- "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."
- "Greensboro To Move Forward on Domestic Partnership Benefits". Archived from the original on April 21, 2012.
- "North Carolina County Passes Domestic Partner Benefits Despite Defamatory Comments from Commissioner Bill James". Archived from the original on April 21, 2012.
- Comer, Matt (December 16, 2009). "Mecklenburg Commissioners Approve DP Benefits". Archived from the original on April 21, 2012.
- "Domestic Partner Registry Available May 2". April 27, 2011. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012.
- "Senate Vote Puts Marriage Amendment Issue to the Voters". WRAL-TV. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
- "SL2011-0409". Archived from the original on April 19, 2012.
- "Elon University Poll: April 2, 2012" (PDF format; requires Adobe Reader). Archived from the original on April 19, 2012.
- "NC Against Gay Marriage, But Also Marriage Amendment" (PDF format; requires Adobe Reader). Public Policy Polling. September 7, 2011. Retrieved September 7, 2011.