Same sex marriage votes

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.


  1. SherryH says

    “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.”

    Even better – one-stop voting has already started. If you’re registered to vote in North Carolina, you can go to the state’s Board of Elections website ( ) and use the one-stop voting site lookup feature (third link on the left) to find one in your county. Stop by during their open hours, fill out your ballot, and you’re done.

    I’ll be casting my vote sometime next week.

  2. SherryH says

    Incidentally, even if you’re against same-sex marriage (Why? WHY?), Amendment One is a terrible idea. First, because there is already a law prohibiting same-sex marriage – so it’s handled there. More importantly, because the amendment is written so broadly as to have very broad and unintended legal consequences.

    Here’s one lawyer’s analysis:

    I’ve put this in a separate comment so that if it’s inappropriately political to post here, you can delete it without removing the voting information.

  3. Matt says

    I’ve already done my early voting. The Republicans in the state congress who voted to put this up for a popular vote put it in the primary in hope that NC Republicans would be coming out in force already to vote in the presidential primary while the NC Democrats would stay home since there is no presidential primary. But, now the Republican primary is decided AND the Democrat NC Governor Bev Purdue surprisingly decided against running for another term, so there is an important Democratic Gubernatorial primary battle that should bring out the Democrats. Certainly down here in NC even the Democrats aren’t always knowns as the most compassionate of folks when it comes to issues of homosexuality, but the tides certainly are changing.

    One of the major Republican state congressmen who voted to put the measure up for a popular vote recently stated that he was voting against it because it was too broad and generally pointless. The Republican speaker of the state House said that if it passes, he fully expects it to be repealed within 20 years because the popular opinion in the state is changing (so why vote on it in the first place?).

    My major beef with the groups who are opposed to the amendment is that they are playing up what I consider the “technicalities” of the issue. They are campaigning on the fact that it hurts children by taking away their health insurance if it is provided by the employer of the unmarried non-biological parent (of unknown sex). They say that it could eliminate hospital-visitation agreements. Etc., etc. And this is all true, valid, and important. And it is no doubt the best way to beat the amendment. But to me what it is saying is, “hey, I understand what you are trying to do, but this has too many unforeseen negative byproducts,” when what they really should be saying is, “The primary objective of what you are trying to do is shameful, amoral, backwards, and out of step with the times.”

    I’m also annoyed at, but again understand completely, the oppositions attempts to join forces with the more “liberal” religious institutions that are against the amendment, when this is all religion’s fault in the first place. I understand that getting a good portion of the religious in this state against the amendment is the only way to defeat it, but I hate seeing religious leaders congratulated and put on a pedestal for “having the courage” to go against this amendment.

    Anyway, sorry for the rant. I was in Ohio when its amendment passed, and now I’m in NC when its amendment will probably pass. It’s getting ridiculous.

  4. Mano Singham says

    Interesting! So according to the model, it looks like the amendment allowing same-sex marriage in Ohio has a good chance of being approved in 2013 but North Carolina will have to wait until 2019. This makes the NC vote worth watching even more closely.

  5. says

    A law is easier to repeal than a constitutional amendment.

    Regardless, this is such an ugly thing. It results in responses of “well the people said they wanted limits” and the same kind of bullshit we’re seeing out of California.

    Civil rights should never be put up for popular vote. Tyranny of the majority is a real thing, and the Christian conservatives know this, and know this vote will go the way to once more showing our civilization belongs in the Dark Ages.

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