Thursday, May 17, 2012

Should Charlotte snub Amendment One on same-sex benefits?

Our first instinct, as opponents of North Carolina's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, is to challenge it any way possible and show the harm it inflicts. So we understand those who encourage the Charlotte City Council to offer same-sex benefits to its employees - even if it gets the city sued.

But council members made a smarter decision last night, voting 9-2 to get an opinion from the N.C. Attorney General on the issue before including the benefits in the next fiscal year budget. The city doesn't currently offer benefits to same-sex partners, but Curt Walton recommended doing so in his budget proposal earlier this month.

Most of us know the basics at hand: North Carolina's same-sex amendment says that the only union the state recognizes is a marriage between a man and a woman. That jeopardizes benefits for same-sex partners - as well as heterosexual, unmarried domestic partners - offered by local governments and state universities. A UNC study published last November said there's no iffyness about it - based on what courts in other states have ruled, same-sex benefits in Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro, and Mecklenburg and Orange counties would become illegal when the amendment passed.

Mecklenburg County commissioner Bill James, in the wake of last week's vote, already has asked the board to eliminate those benefits.

The problem facing the City Council: The AG's office probably won't get back to the city with an opinion by the time the council has to approve its budget in June. That would leave council members with a new question - do they plow ahead with the benefits and invite a lawsuit challenging their legality, or do they wait a city or county already offering the benefits to have their inevitable day before a judge?

We think Charlotte should wait. The amendment's language clearly makes same-sex benefits from governments illegal. Offering them might make a momentarily satisfying statement, but a lawsuit would surely follow, and that would result in a costly defense for a losing effort. We've criticized N.C. Republicans in the past for their costly pursuit of mandates involving abortion visits that already had been struck down by a federal judge. Same principle applies here. Conscientious objection might be a fine tool for individuals, but governments shouldn't be in the business of snubbing the law.

The best the City Council can do for now is ask the attorney general about alternatives. Amendment One author and House Majority Leader Paul Stam suggested that local governments can get around the amendment by allowing homosexual employees in partnerships to designate another person to receive benefits. It's not an ideal solution - and it's potentially more costly. But North Carolina voters have made their decision. The City Council should abide by it.



Peter St. Onge

19 comments:

CharlotteIn2012 said...

Who would expect the Democrats to adhere to any law.

CharlotteIn2012 said...

I want to live with 28 other people in a two bedroom apartment, as we all love each other.

Why do the Republicans hate me so much that they keep these laws allowing only a certain number or even a certain number of pets on the books?

Observer you need to champion my cause.

WashuOtaku said...

It really doesn't make any sense when the Manager is calling for a city tax increase and than offering more benefits at the same time. There is no real justification at this time and not something that is necessary to keep employees.

But to answer the question... if they want to do this, then they should wait and get an opinion first from the AG.

CharlotteIn2012 said...

From what has been said, unless they get these same sex benefits, they are stuck with employees who are not hard working, honest and well educated, as those who they need to provide these benefits to in order to keep or even recruit.

It does seem confusing.

par said...

This does not surprise me with a Democratic controlled city council. The people of this state were heard during the elections and the decision has been made. Like the private sector, if government wants to extend health insurance to "LEGAL DEPENDENTS". Do it. Let's move on with BIGGER issues that effect EVERYONE, such as run away city spending, much needed help with the school system, crime and high property taxes.

J said...

"That would seem to jeopardize benefits for same-sex partners - as well as heterosexual, unmarried domestic partners..."

That one's easy. Memo to the women to which this statement applies: Tell him if he wants it, put a ring on it. Problem solved.

theidiotswinagain said...

Once again the backwards and dimwitted parts of the state control what happens everywherein NC. Mecklenburg County voted overwhelmingly against Amendment 1 and therefore should do what it needs to do to. Sad that we have to put up with all the homophobic and discriminatory beliefs of the majority of folks in this state.

burtshabby said...

I love the idea of decisions being pushed down from federal to states and from states to cities. The more local the decisions, the stronger voice of all Americans.

CommonCents said...

No way Roy Cooper takes this up in an election year. The Republicans are already successfully linking Gov Perdue with Dem Walter Dalton. If Cooper wants any part of not alienating 61% of the voters of the state, he will avoid it at all cost.

J said...

theidiotswinagain - Is it normal for you to dismiss everyone who disagrees with you on every issue as stupid, or just this issue? Of course, let's not bother debating the issue, just call everyone who disagrees with you names. Real mature of you.

jay1937 said...

Seems to me that the City of Charlotte is a city in the State of North Carolina and North Carolina is in the United States. Therefore, any federal law that is passed is enforceable if every state. Every State law that is passes is enforceable in every city of that state. You seem to miss that point in your blog. Perhaps a short study in law would be of help to you.

GottaBchittenme said...

"Mecklenburg County voted overwhelmingly against Amendment 1 and therefore should do what it needs to do to."

You mean that 54% to 46% margin?

GottaBchittenme said...

If 54% to 46% in 1 county is "overwhelmingly against Amendment 1"

Then 61% to 39% Statewide for
Amendment 1 is surely an old-fashioned butt whooping !!!

Ron White 47 said...

Charlotte oBserver brought to you by MSNBC

27d0a8ac-2523-11e1-aeb2-000bcdcb2996 said...

The Gayserver strikes again!

Wiley Coyote said...

Pete,

The horse is dead.

The only thing left is to make glue out of the hooves.

Get over it.

grizzy4884 said...

Don't hate you. Don't really care what you do. But God Does for His Own reasons.

tracy two crows said...

Grizzly"God does for His Own Reasons",and there is the root of the problem.Exactly WHEN did God Die or resign&leave folks like you in Charge?He didn't,as it has never been proven that He does or doesn't exist.And until that happens,NO ONE of the Human disposition has the Right to force their Religous Beliefs(they ARE beliefs NOT facts)on anyone else.That's called THEOCRACY.Not only is it illegal,it's just plain wrong.Put the shoe on the other foot&see how well it fits if a Law was declared based on an Islamic Belief that said ALL People MUST be in Polygamy based Marriages,because it's an abomination not to.That would go aganst everything you stand for&that Manacle wouldn't feel so good wrapped around YOUR legs.So why do it to others?You don't think that could happen?Au Contraire,now that you all opened Pandoras Box for having Religion make Law,you have NO choice.Should be interesting to watch.Gay Marriage doesn't force YOU to do anything against your Will in your own,personal Life.Banning it DOES affect millions of Peoples Personal Lives,Gay or Straight.A part of their Lives of which you all have NO business in.If YOU don't want someone fiddling around in YOUR Private Affairs&how you Live your Life,then don't demand you get to do it to others.Two can play at that Game&since you've decided to kick the Wall down between Church&State,expect an onslaught of those of us who's Beliefs are VASTLY different to demand &GET Laws that are equal to yours on the Books that WILL re-arrange the furniture of Your Stepford Wives House.This is yet another Giant you should have left sleeping.

Dr. Jimmy said...

There's no way Amendment One will stand up to the US Constitution. It will be smothered in the crib.