North Carolina Passes Gay Marriage Ban
Voters in North Carolina approved a far-reaching ban on same-sex marriage and other unions, Tuesday, reversing their state’s status as the sole Southern outpost without such a measure and dealing a temporary setback to growing marriage equality momentum.
Unofficial returns show 58% voting in favor of the ban and 42% rejecting it, with 35% of precincts reporting the Associated Press reported shortly after 9 p.m.
Same-sex marriage is already illegal under North Carolina law, but Amendment 1, as the broadly worded measure is known, will make it illegal for the state to recognize any form of relationship beyond marriage between one man and one woman.
The latest polling indicated that voters supported the amendment by 55% to 39%, although only 46% of voters understand the potential effects. Once voters were informed that the measure would also ban civil unions, opposition increased to 61%. Opponents based their campaign around the “unintended consequences” for the children of parents in domestic partnerships, and the protections for domestic violence survivors who are not in marriage relationships with their abusers.
Protect All Families NC, the coalition that worked to defeat the amendment, had expressed hopefulness heading into the vote on Tuesday. Early voting predicted high turnout and increased participation of voters who tend to be less conservative than those who typically vote in primary elections.Voter turnout of more than 2 million was projected, a number that would exceed turnout for the Democratic primary contest between Hillary and Barack Obama in 2008. With no competitive Republican presidential primary, most of the attention and energy focused on Amendment 1.
National focus turned to the state in the past few days as Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan expressed their support for marriage equality and advocates continued to press President Barack Obama to explain his “evolving” position. The Obama campaign in March released a statement about Amendment 1 saying that the president does not “support divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples.”
Protect All Families NC ran a campaign marked by diverse and bipartisan support from business leaders, clergy members, and elected officials. The NAACP provided key support including $500,000 for an ad buy. President Bill Clinton released a robocall that reached 500,000 voters.
More than $2.5 million was raised by the coalition, with contributions from over 11,000 individual donors, most of them from North Carolina. By comparison, the Vote For Marriage NC coalition raised around $1.4 million, with most of the donations coming from groups.
Jeremy Kennedy, Protect All Families NC campaign manager, expressed his overriding emotion as “proud” in a telephone interview with The Advocate about three hours before the polls closed. “You can’t put this conversation back in a box,” he said. “The eyes of the nation have been on us, and we’ve given the people of North Carolina hope.” Check Advocate.com for more updates.
Reporting by Neal Broverman and Julie Bolcer.