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Amendment One opponents fear loss of domestic violence protections


At the May 8th primary, voters will decide whether to approve Amendment One which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. 

As WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports, one argument against the Marriage Amendment is that domestic violence protections could be stripped away from unmarried victims. 

Some opponents of Amendment One say its passage could put North Carolina through a period of legal wrangling akin to Ohio’s when it passed a similar amendment.  It took three years for an Ohio Supreme Court to overturn rulings in the state that restricted access to certain domestic violence protections because the victims did not meet the state’s legal definition of a recognized domestic union.  Executive Director Beth Froehling of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence says the loss of those protections have serious implications. 

"Our protective order law has been drafted and improved over the years to provide as much protection as possible for a victim of domestic violence including possession of a residence, custody issues, support. All those issues that need to be addressed and to support a victim and help them break free from a violent relationship are critical for that victim.” 

House Majority Leader Paul Stam calls that a phony argument.  He says opponents of Amendment One should be ashamed of themselves for using victims of domestic violence to support same-sex marriage.

"The cases were reversed by the Ohio Supreme Court, so anybody relying on those cases would get laughed out of court.  If somebody tried it in North Carolina, if they cited the Ohio lower court cases, the other would say ha ha ha that’s reversed … you’re out of court, Brother."

Froehling says no one knows how a court might rule in North Carolina.   But Stam points to the 29 other states that, he says, have problem-free marriage amendments.

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 4 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.