There is an interesting development in North Carolina that is worth paying attention to. It is the only southern state that does not have a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage (although there are laws that prohibit it) but on May 8th, people will go to the polls to vote on whether to pass one that bans not only same sex marriage but anything that raises even the suspicion of equality for gay people, such as civil unions and domestic partnerships.
Normally this would be a slam-dunk for this state and initially it seemed that way. But the tide seems to be turning. Recent polls suggest support slipping so that only 54% now support the motion with 40% opposed, still enough to pass it easily but nowhere near the kinds of majorities that were delivered in the hey-day of anti-same-sex marriage constitutional amendments in the mid-2000s. (Ohio, to its shame, passed such an amendment in 2004 with 62% voting in favor.) The trend seems to be towards even less support, with even some conservatives and Republicans expressing misgivings about the wisdom of this move, with one of them correctly saying that “Republicans who oppose equality really are fighting history and they’re going to get left behind.”
It is still a long shot that the amendment will be defeated but even if it passes, if the margin is narrow it will be yet another sign that the bigots are losing this war.
Meanwhile, equal rights advocates in Ohio are collecting signatures to repeal the 2004 amendment. If enough signatures are collected (which I expect to happen though no one has yet asked me to sign), it will be on the ballot in 2013. The proposed new wording says:
Be it resolved by the People of the State of Ohio that Article XV, Section 11 of the Ohio Constitution be adopted and read as follows: Section 11. In the State of Ohio and its political subdivisions, marriage shall be a union of two consenting adults not nearer of kin than second cousins, and not having a husband or wife living, and no religious institution shall be required to perform or recognize a marriage.
Opponents of same-sex marriage have challenged the legality of the petition at the Ohio Supreme Court. That body has an 6-1 Republican majority and it will be interesting to see how they rule.