After Ohio passed a marriage amendment in 2004, which not only enshrined a ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s Constitution but also barred legal recognition of any union outside of opposite-sex marriage “that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage,” a judge struck down part of the state’s domestic violence law because it “recognizes the relationship between an unmarried offender and victim as one ‘approximating the significance or effect of marriage.’”
Like in Ohio, North Carolina’s Amendment One similarly prohibits the state from recognizing any union besides opposite-sex marriage and could potentially have a devastating impact on domestic violence laws. Alliance Defense Fund attorney Jordan Lorence is out today with a column defending Amendment One, which voters will decide on today, and arguing that banning same-sex marriages and protections for unmarried couples, gay or straight, “would help promote” the goal of stopping domestic violence:
The distorted, fear-mongering claim that the marriage amendment will protect those who batter their unmarried partners from criminal prosecution is simply false and has been effectively refuted. This claim has not come true in any of the 30 states that have approved marriage amendments. Anyone who beats up another he lives with should be prosecuted criminally.
But there is a bigger issue here: multiple studies show that women in unmarried relationships and their children are more likely to suffer domestic violence than women married to the biological father of their children. We as a compassionate people need to warn our neighbors about living arrangements that expose them to physical harm. State authorities must prosecute batterers, but prevention is better. Approving the North Carolina marriage amendment would help promote this goal.
In an interview with the Fayetteville Observer, Republican state legislator Paul Stam said the ADF “overruled” an effort to pass “a more narrowly worded amendment.”