Gay Marriage Ban On Ballot Omits Sentence From Bill
A ban on same-sex marriage will be on the North Carolina ballot in May. The wording on the ballot only includes half of the bill. Some worry this could make the amendment more difficult for courts to interpret.
When voters go to the polls in May, the amendment will appear as: Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. House Republican Leader Paul Stam says that's all that matters. "The entire explanation will be on the ballot. The second sentence is a mere clarification," says Stam.
What's not included is a second sentence that's in the bill. That sentence basically says the ban won't stop businesses from offering benefits to domestic partners. Representative Rick Glazier has said he thought that would be included on the ballot. He says that was crucial in getting some lawmakers to put the amendment up for a vote.
Jean Veilleux with the Charlotte School of Law says not having the full bill on the amendment could open it to legal challenges. "A court might consider those limitations as part of the legislative history in trying to interpret what the one sentence that was ratified says," says Veilleux. "But it would only be legislative history; it wouldn't have the authority of the one single sentence that actually gets ratified, assuming that's what happens."
Stam says Democrats shouldn't be surprised at the ballot language. He says the one-page bill clearly states only the first sentence would be on the ballot.