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North Carolina Voters Approve Marriage Amendment

by Emery P. Dalesio and Martha Waggoner
Tuesday May 8, 2012

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment on Tuesday defining marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman, making it the 30th state to adopt such a ban.

With 35 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday, unofficial returns showed the amendment passing with about 58 percent of the vote to 42 percent against.

In the final days before the vote, members of President Barack Obama's cabinet expressed support for gay marriage and former President Bill Clinton recorded phone messages urging voters to reject the amendment. Opponents also held marches, ran TV ads and gave speeches, including one by Jay Bakker, son of televangelists Jim Bakker and the late Tammy Faye Bakker.

Meanwhile, supporters had run their own ad campaigns and church leaders urged Sunday congregations to vote for the amendment. The Rev. Billy Graham, who at 93 remains influential even though his last crusade was in 2005, was featured in full-page newspaper ads supporting the amendment.

Both sides spent a combined $3 million on their campaigns.

North Carolina law already bans gay marriage, like nine other states, but an amendment would effectively slam the door shut on same-sex marriages. The amendment also goes beyond state law by voiding other types of domestic unions from carrying legal status, which opponents warn could disrupt protection orders for unmarried couples.

Six states - all in the Northeast except Iowa - and the District of Columbia allow same sex marriages.

The North Carolina amendment was placed on the ballot after Republicans took over control of the state Legislature after the 2010 elections, a role the GOP hadn't enjoyed for 140 years.

Joe Easterling, who described himself as a devout Christian, voted for the amendment at a polling place in Wake Forest.

"I know that some people may argue that the Bible may not necessarily be applicable, or it should not be applicable, on such policy matters. But even looking at nature itself, procreation is impossible without a man and a woman. And because of those things, I think it is important that the state of North Carolina's laws are compatible with the laws of nature but, more importantly, with the laws of God."

Linda Toanone, who voted against the amendment, said people are born gay and it is not their choice.

"We think everybody should have the same rights as everyone else. If you're gay, lesbian, straight - whatever," she said.

North Carolina is the latest presidential swing state to weigh in on gay marriage. Florida, Virginia and Ohio all have constitutional amendments against gay marriage, and Obama's election-year vagueness on gay marriage has come under fresh scrutiny.

Obama, who supports most gay rights, has stopped short of backing gay marriage. Without clarification, he's said for the past year and a half that his personal views on the matter are "evolving."

Education Secretary Arne Duncan broke ranks with the White House on Monday, stating his unequivocal support for same-sex marriage one day after Vice President Joe Biden said he is "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex married couples getting the same rights at heterosexual married couples.

One fault line that could determine the result is generational. Older voters, who tend to be more reliable voters, are expected to back the amendment.

State House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican from a Charlotte suburb, said even if the amendment is passed, it will be reversed as today's young adults age.

"It's a generational issue," Tillis told a student group at North Carolina State University in March about the amendment he supports. "If it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years."

The amendment also goes beyond state law by voiding other types of domestic unions from carrying legal status, which opponents warn could disrupt protection orders for unmarried couples.

"Also, that amendment is against women, I believe, because also underneath the amendment, other laws are saying that people who aren't married at all, they can't file for domestic abuse cases, if they're living with their significant other. Which is wrong," Toanone said.

In North Carolina, more than 500,000 voters had cast their ballot before Tuesday, which was more than the 2008 primary when Obama and Hillary Clinton were fighting for the Democratic presidential nomination. Both sides said that bodes well for them.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


  • , 2012-05-09 00:38:54

    So now the 60% can focus on child abuses, high rate of divorce, feeding the hungry, and housing the homeless.

  • , 2012-05-09 00:40:28

    Remember to keep your gay dollars away from North Carolina!

  • Marc , 2012-05-09 05:03:46

    And California. This ducks but NC is not off on a tangent. Gay people should stop playing the discrimination card. And making a positive introduction of who we are as people

  • , 2012-05-09 05:22:00

    I love how people argue the constitution of marriage but people like JLO or my father get married as often as they renew the lease on their cars. All I wish for in my family’s future is to know that when I pass, my Partner and daughter are taken care of. Clearly I would not get married in a church, but why am I being banned from falling in love and having my white dress and special wedding plans and memories. Whether I am a lesbian or straight woman, I am still a woman at the ex of the day with the same dreams of love and companionship- the happily ever after. The comments I read on NBC 6’s article were horrible! People comparing homosexuals to pedophiles. Stating we are all under the "sexual preference out of the norm" category. RIDICULOUS. How the heck are you going to compare criminals that cause harm and pain to children and families to a community of homosexuals. Why cant we all just agree to disagree and compromise?!

  • , 2012-05-09 07:58:27

    Compromise? There is no compromising with someone of blind eye faith!There will never have to be until every gay American, their families and friends actually get their asses to the voting booths. Until then, Religion, and not common sense, will be the norm in politics. How ridiculous our country must look to the rest of the civilized world!

  • , 2012-05-09 08:42:37


  • Wayne M., 2012-05-09 20:05:06

    Using religious beliefs to justify bigotry is an abuse of religion. Furthermore, banning marriage equality on the basis of religious beliefs is also a violation of religious freedom. The fact is that many religious organizations and people of faith support marriage equality - and that includes Bible-believing Christians.

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