Posted on May 10, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Thursday, May 10 at 3:32 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James says now that Amendment One has passed, benefits for same-sex couples working in county government are illegal.
"The issue before us now is that [Amendment One has] passed, and it's the law,” he said during an interview at his home.
In 2009, the county approved benefits for same sex couples working in local government, but now, the North Carolina constitution will be changed to only recognize marriage as between a man and a woman.
James said he’s emailed the county manager about his concern that county rules providing benefits to homosexual couples will violate state law. James told NewsChannel 36 the county responded by saying they’re looking into whether changes will have to be made to their policy.
According to the North Carolina constitution, local municipalities do not have the authority to act when they have not been given authority by the state. Because Amendment One changes the constitution to only recognize marriage as a union between a man and a woman, James says county benefits for same sex couples is illegal.
"Because it's the law, we have to address the fact that local government cannot do what the state tells us we're not allowed to do,” explained James. "The amendment says [heterosexual marriage] is the only domestic legal union, which means no other domestic legal unions can be recognized by government. It doesn’t mean that private industry like Bank of America or Wells Fargo can’t continue to offer [same sex benefits,]” he continued.
As for the city of Charlotte, Leaders here planned to offer same sex couple benefits for city workers starting January 1, 2013. A spokesperson for the city manager’s office tells NewsChannel 36 the city attorney is looking into the issue and will present a report to city council in the coming weeks.