The ninth recommendation in the Civitas Institute Agenda “20 Changes for 2010: A Primer for State Reform” focuses on strengthening state marriage laws in North Carolina.
The problem: North Carolina is the only southern state that does not have a marriage defense amendment in its state constitution.
In 2009, North Carolina state legislators had the opportunity to enact a constitutional amendment declaring marriage as the union between one man and one woman. However, the Defense of Marriage Act, introduced this session in the House as HB 361 (Crawford, D-Granville; Lewis, R-Harnett; Burris-Floyd, R-Gaston; Hill, D-Columbus) and in the Senate as SB 272 (Forrester, R-Gaston), was blocked for a fifth straight session by opponents in committee.1
Without a constitutional amendment, current marriage laws could come under attack in the courtroom from same-sex couples who seek a marriage license or same-sex couples who move to North Carolina from another state that previously recognized their union as marriage.
Current state marriage laws declare: “A valid and sufficient marriage is created by the consent of a male and female person who may lawfully marry to take each other as husband and wife, freely.”
On the flip side, North Carolina law invalidates marriage – whether created by common law, contracted or performed outside the state – between individuals of the same gender.
That said, both laws do not substitute as a state marriage amendment, nor negate the right of North Carolinians to vote on the definition of marriage in a referendum.
9.) Strengthen existing marriage laws
According to December, 2009 polling by the Civitas Institute, 73% of North Carolina voters support a constitutional amendment declaring that marriage is defined as one man and one woman, .
- Pass a Marriage Defense Act. The legislation would allow North Carolina voters to amend the state constitution to include the definition of marriage as solely between a man and a woman. If approved by voters, a constitutional amendment would strengthen already existing state marriage laws and not allow activist courts and legislatures to alter the definition of marriage.