Next Tuesday, on May 8, voters wield the power to add another significant barrier to non-traditional couples getting equal treatment in North Carolina by supporting Amendment One. Many people are glad of that for religious reasons or other opposition to gay rights. But everyone, regardless of their moral compass, should take a moment to really think about what is – or isn’t – being protected and who is – or isn’t – being helped by this amendment.

Yes, Amendment One would change the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. But that’s already the law. The point of the amendment is to make any future attempts to change the status quo that much harder.

Supporters of Amendment One forget in their rush to safeguard the world against gay couples (which this amendment will never do) is what it does to their family and friends, gay or not. This law means that no one but one male and one female who are willing to be legally bound together will have any of the rights we all take for granted to support each other financially or in times of sickness. The message of Amendment One is that such rights are only for married people. And it’s not because the proponents of the law want to safeguard marriage – or they’d be focusing on ending straight divorces, which are far more prevalent than gay couples – but because they fear a world in which a love they don’t understand conquers prejudice and condemnation. Haven’t we been here before?

We all know people who divorced too easily, and we all know people who would have been far better off apart than bound by a marriage they no longer wanted. But the law supports the rights of those people to choose to be together or to choose to end their relationship, and it protects their rights to provide for each other’s physical and financial wellbeing as long as they choose to be together. North Carolina doesn’t provide that basic protection to any other kind of couple right now.

If you support Amendment One, ask yourself what you’re really looking for in voting yes. If the law is already on your side, and it has done nothing to keep straight couples married and households happy, isn’t there a better place to aim your efforts than at further hamstringing those who are merely seeking the stability and safety any straight couple can gain or toss aside without the Constitution getting in their way? A true belief in individual liberty cannot reside side by side with Amendment One.

– Amy Murphy, Huntersville