Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NC Democrats claim gay marriage ban could hurt business recruitment. (Oh, I really don't think so.)

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / September 7, 2011

 RALEIGH – House Democratic leaders and a couple of business representatives decried the potential effects of a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

They said that now is not the time, given the current economic climate, to be considering such a ban, adding that it could have a detrimental effect on luring business to North Carolina.

“We have in North Carolina at the president time many problems – the economy exacerbated by a terrible hurricane that has hit our coast, in particular the Northeast and flooding among areas in the East,” said Rep. Joe Hackney, D-Orange, the House minority leader. “We have a sluggish economy which we ought to be focused on reviving.”

The N.C. General Assembly is scheduled to return to Raleigh next week, primarily to consider proposed amendments to the N.C. Constitution. The most contentious amendment is one that would define marriage between a man and a woman as the only domestic union recognized in the state.

Andrew Spainhour, an attorney for Replacements Limited in Guilford County, said the proposed amendment could end up affecting domestic partner benefits that Replacement Limited and many Fortune 500 companies offer their employees.

“To those who say this won’t hurt business, we say put yourselves in the shoes of someone trying to entice an LGBT professional or business leader or educator or some other member of a creative class to come to North Carolina, a state considering an anti-gay amendment in the year 2011,” Spainhour said. “We’re incredulous frankly that we can’t all agree that that’s a tough sell.” LGBT refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

 He said that such a constitutional amendment could have unintended consequences.

“I am not in a position to take on faith that domestic partner benefits will not be impacted,” Spainhour said. “Doing no harm is generally the right answer and that is certainly the case here.”

Anthony Pugliese, senior vice president of the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants said that finding a welcoming, accommodating environment for their work force was a major factor in his organization deciding to relocate from the New York tri-state area to Durham.

“Our decision would have been significantly altered, been swayed, it would have been reconsidered had this amendment been in place at the time we were making the decision,” Pugliese said.

Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, said the amendment could send the wrong message to people in the military who are stationed in North Carolina.

Martin noted that the military’s controversial Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy is set to expire soon. “You’re going to have many, many openly gay serving members of the military in North Carolina,” Martin said.

Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, said that an unintended consequence of such an amendment could affect North Carolina’s domestic violence laws. She said that in Ohio, some domestic violence laws related to unmarried heterosexual couples were affected once that state adopted a similar amendment.

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