Voters are confused about the constitutional amendment on marriage, but state election officials sent out reminders to local elections office Monday morning that precinct workers should not try to explain it.
State Elections Director Gary Bartlett said a report out of Robeson County had a poll worker telling a voter this: "You vote for it if you believe in a man and a woman marrying rather than a man and a man marrying."
It's not appropriate for poll workers to come up with their own interpretations, Bartlett said, so voters should be referred to the official explanation posted on the State Board of Elections web site.
It's hard to imagine how a voter would consult a web site while casting a ballot. For those who want to study in advance, here is the ballot wording and the official explanation:
On the ballot:
Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.
Official explanation by the Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission:
A current North Carolina law enacted in 1996 says that marriage between individuals of the same sex is not valid in North Carolina. This amendment would make that concept part of the North Carolina Constitution. If this amendment is passed by the voters, then under state law it can only be changed by another vote of the people.
The term “domestic legal union” used in the amendment is not defined in North Carolina law. There is debate among legal experts about how this proposed constitutional amendment may impact North Carolina law as it relates to unmarried couples of same or opposite sex and same sex couples legally married in another state, particularly in regard to employment-related benefits for domestic partners; domestic violence laws; child custody and visitation rights; and end-of-life arrangements. The courts will ultimately make those decisions.
The amendment also says that private parties may still enter into contracts creating rights enforceable against each other. This means that unmarried persons, businesses and other private parties may be able to enter into agreements establishing personal rights, responsibilities, or benefits as to each other. The courts will decide the extent to which such contracts can be enforced.