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NC: Durham City Council Unanimously Passes Resolution Opposing Amendment One

Just in. I’m so proud of my town.

On Thursday, March 8, in a 6-0 vote, the city of Durham’s councilmembers encouraged voters to cast their upcoming ballots against an amendment to the state constitution that would strip the local government of the ability to provide domestic partner benefits such as health care to its public employees and their children, among other harms.

“With this unanimous vote, the Durham City Council not only proved it represents a diverse, progressive city that promotes protections for all, but it also stood in strong opposition to a discriminatory measure that could disenfranchise many of its city and county employees and their families, as well as public employees in all corners of the state,” said Jeremy Kennedy, campaign manager for Protect All NC Families.

Durham City Councilmember Diane Catotti, who crafted the resolution, said in a statement to Protect All NC Families:

“Providing domestic partner benefits for same-sex and opposite-sex employees is a matter of simple fairness. The Durham City Council is proud of its unanimous reassertion of full equality under the law, demonstrating that equal work should be rewarded with equal pay and benefits. The Firefighters, Police Officers, and other City Staff who provide safety and service to our community deserve the right to provide these basic benefits to their families and children. We stand strongly against any amendment that would result in discrimination against our citizens and staff. We urge our citizens and all North Carolina citizens to vigorously oppose this amendment.”

In a video released today by Protect All NC Families, Durham Mayor Bill Bell echoed Catotti’s sentiments by declaring his unequivocal opposition to Amendment One.

“We’re in a community in the state where we’re trying to attract jobs…and we know many people who, if this amendment were to pass, would be very hesitant to come and work here in North Carolina,” said Bell. “I’m voting against it, and I think it speaks for itself that my hope, when the vote goes down, you’ll see that Durham County voted overwhelmingly against this amendment.”

Durham is among nine local governments in the state that stand to lose their domestic partner benefits if Amendment One were to pass on May 8. A recent state panel tasked with explaining Amendment One to voters found that there is significant debate among legal experts about how the amendment might impact various legal protections for public and private employee benefits as well as other harms. The panel ultimately concluded that the state’s court system would need to determine Amendment One’s lasting consequences, including the enforcement of domestic violence laws, child custody agreements and end-of-life directives.

“Not only would Amendment One prevent municipalities like Durham from continuing to offer domestic partner benefits to their employees, it would force our state’s Constitution to declare that some North Carolinians and their families do not deserve health care, insurance and other basic protections, said Kennedy. “We strongly encourage other leaders to join the men and women of the Durham City Council in encouraging North Carolinians to vote against Amendment One and keep North Carolina on the right side of history.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding