Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vague Wording: The unintended consequences of discrimination

North Carolina passed an amendment to its state constitution to effectively ban gay marriages. The amendment states that marriage between one man and one woman is the only legal and valid union. In their zealous quest to ban gay marriages, there may have been some consequences that they did not foresee. Unintended consequences usually happen to people other than those who are effectively being discriminated against.
In North Carolina there are about 150,000 heterosexual couples who live together but are not married and have received legal protection due to this status, according to the New York Times.  These couples  will be forced to get married to retain these rights. There are concerns that domestic violence protection laws will be changed and some people currently protected under the current laws will no longer be protected. The amendment will make a change to hospital visiting rights and might underwrite current child custody laws. This is by no means an exhaustive list of what all will change with the passage of the amendment.
We saw the ambiguity arise when Mississippi tried to pass their "personhood" amendment. That amendment stated that being a person happens at conception, more precisely in a zygote. Because a zygote is a person, in this amendment, abortion would be murder. The idea was to be able to prosecute those having abortions as having committed murder. Just a few problems. It does not make provisions for ex post facto law. Ex post facto law is a law that criminalizes an action in the past before the law was passed or aggravates the action to make it a harsher penalty after the law was passed. Additionally, it did not make any provisions for contraceptives that take place after the zygote comes together such as the Morning After pill or Plan B or something as simple as an IUD. I could go through all types of laws that are passed to go after a select group of people that ends up applying to a larger amount of the population than originally intended. This is what we'll see if we continue to pass laws or amendments similar to the persknhood amendment or the amendment that was just passed last night jn North Carolina.

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