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Amendment 1 could weaken domestic violence laws, opponents say

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- As early voting sites prepare to open, those opposed to Amendment 1 say that, if passed, the amendment will weaken laws protecting unmarried domestic violence victims. However, those in favor of the amendment say that's not true.

While making last minute phone calls to voters, representatives at Winston-Salem's Protect All North Carolina Families office said passing the amendment could mean only married domestic violence victims get full protection under state law.

"There are 222,000 unmarried couples in our state. Of those only 18 percent are gay couples," said Will Robinson, regional representative of the group. "So that means about 198,000 couples stand to lose domestic violence protection because of this amendment."

Robinson argues that the amendment would make married couples the only legally recognized union. As a result, Robinson argues, the amendment's wording would prevent those living in domestic relationships but who aren't married from having equal protection.

"That broad language that I am talking about specifically is the words 'domestic legal union,' which has never been defined by any court in this state," Robinson said.

"It's just a deterrent to get people's attention moved away from what our church and people here believe--what we call biblical marriage," said Pastor Ron Baity of Berean Baptist Church.

Baity, who heads up Return America, said similar amendments in other states have continued to protect all domestic violence victims.

"This is really a facade to try to get the emphasis off the real issue, which is marriage between one man and one woman," Baity said.

Early voting sites across the state open Thursday.