How North Carolina’s Amendment One Will Affect Employee Benefits

Today we have a guest blogger at The Employer Handbook. It’s Audrey Porterman. Audrey is the main researcher and writer for Her most recent accomplishment includes graduating from Ohio State, with a degree in business management. Her current focus for the site involves an online phd program and english doctoral programs.

If you have comments on this blog post, you can email them directly to Audrey. And if you want to guest blog at The Employer Handbook, then email me.

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Last week, North Carolina passed a “super amendment” against gay marriage. The amendment didn’t ban gay marriage — the state constitution already defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Instead, Amendment One set out to “provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in the state.”

Amendment One — which passed by 61 percent — effectively nullified the recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships in the state, whether of gay couples or straight couples.

Far-Reaching Influence

While many supporters of the amendment saw it as a way to ban gay marriage (which was already banned in the state), the amendment actually creates a new legal framework that threatens to undermine all types of domestic benefits, including health insurance and other employee benefits.

Opponents of the amendment have argued that it could deny same-sex and other couples in domestic partnerships the following:

  • Employer-sponsored health benefits
  • Domestic violence protection
  • Custodial and visitation rights
  • Inheritance from wills and trusts

Those who support the amendment say that “private parties” are entitled to enter into whatever contracts they choose. However, many gay couples receive domestic partnerships through government jobs. Some county commissioners are already calling for the repeal of those benefits.

Others have argued that the amendment will make the state less attractive to new employers, who want to be able to offer competitive benefits to get the best employees.

It is too soon to tell what the real long-term effects of the amendment will be, but it’s clear already that workplace benefits for domestic partners — even heterosexual ones — will be impacted.

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