September 12th, 2011
08:42 PM ET

N.C. House votes to put constitutional same-sex marriage ban on ballot

[Updated at 8:42 p.m. ET] The North Carolina House voted Monday to put on the 2012 ballot a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in the state, a spokesman for the House speaker said.

The bill, which the House approved 76-41, now goes to the Senate. Three-fifths of the House's 120 members - 72 - were required for the bill to pass.

If the measure passes in the entire Legislature and is approved by voters during the primary in May, North Carolina would become the final state in the Southeast to add a constitutional amendment regarding same-sex marriage.

"This amendment pushes the power away from us and pushes the decision to the people of North Carolina," state Rep. Dale Folwell, a Republican from Winston-Salem and the speaker pro tem, said.

Proponents of the measure said they felt it was important that the amendment be added so that it would protect the state's policy on gay marriage. North Carolina currently has a ban on same-sex marriage, but legislators are seeking to protect that ban by chiseling it into their constitution.

The bill came to the House floor Monday after a House committee passed it by a voice vote earlier in the day. Many Democrats who opposed the measure argued that Republicans, who are in the majority in the Legislature for the first time in 140 years, were trying to push the amendment through quickly without allowing for a real debate or public comment. Republicans argued that the content of the proposed amendment has long been known, even if the specific wording was not.

During debate on the House floor, Rep. Susan Fisher, a Democrat from Asheville, questioned why legislators were asking for such swift movement on the issue.

"I think it's somewhat ironic that we would be asked to debate or have this bill in front of us for immediate consideration," she said. "I don't think you ever consider an amendment to the state constitution immediately, yet here we are."

Jordan Shaw, communications director for North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, told CNN that he did not believe there was a requirement to have a public debate on the issue.

"But I would point out the very nature of this measure would be for the people to vote on it," he said. "It is hard to have a more democratic process than to put it up to the voters."

The amendment would add the following language to the constitution:

"Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts."

Fisher argued that regardless of the semantics and arguments about the proposed amendment, she felt there were large problems with it overall.

"What happens with this amendment is once again we seek to marginalize a group of individuals who only want equality and the same basic rights afforded to every citizen of this state," she said.

She questioned why some legislators insist on repeating what she described as bad lessons from their state's history.

"I remember a recent session where we went to great lengths, and necessary ones I believe, to issue an apology to African-American citizens for injustices," she said. "What I think is about to happen here is another instance where in the not-too- distant future we will be apologizing again for unfair and harmful discriminatory practices."

Fisher urged her colleagues to make North Carolina "the first of the Southern states to appropriately say, 'No this goes too far."

"Show the compassion and the ability to listen that was asked of us earlier today in our opening prayer and say no to this horrible step backward for North Carolina," she said.

Folwell, the speaker pro tem, argued the push for the bill was not about politics or opinions but about the power of the people.

"We're asking something currently in the statute book and allowing (North Carolina voters) to put it in (the state's constitution)."

Folwell argued that the amendment is not about defining relationships or even discussing what qualifies as a relationship.

"This vote today is about the relationship you have with the people who put you here," he said.

Folwell said the vote comes down to simply allowing the people to have control of their own constitution.

"Today, history is going to talk about the strength, the strength of this chamber, to realize that some decisions are simply bigger than we are and they belong to the people of North Carolina," he said.

After the measure passed a House committee earlier Monday, Democrats argued Republicans were sneakily trying to ram the bill through the Legislature.

North Carolina Rep. Joe Hackney, a Democrat, said he only received a copy of the bill right before the committee meeting. The bill has words that "carry great meaning," he said, yet there has been no debate or opportunity for public comment.

"This is no way to conduct constitutional business for the state of North Carolina," he said, saying such a serious issue deserved a fair hearing.

"It is not worthy of this Legislature," he said of the bill in its current form.

House Majority Leader Rep. Paul Stam, a Republican, told committee members he felt it was imperative they move to adopt the amendment.

"Things have changed in Iowa, California, New York, D.C. and Massachusetts," Stam said. "We have now states with significant populations that are allowing same-sex marriages to be legitimized and entered into. The question then becomes, what happens when they come to North Carolina seeking divorce or equitable distribution?"

North Carolina Rep. Paul Luebke, a Democrat, said while he understood that Republicans want to move on the issue, he felt it was "reprehensible," given such a high level of public interest, that the public would not have the chance to comment.

"Whether you (are) for this amendment or against it, it is a travesty we are not debating the measure" properly, Luebke said.

Luebke added that by pushing the proposed amendment along without the right process, the Legislature was wrongly moving to "specifically prohibit one group of citizens" without letting them have a say.

Calling it a step backward for the state, Luebke said if nothing else, debate should be considered because of the impact the move could have on the economy. He referred to major corporations that were founded by people from North Carolina who opposed the bill, including Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who wrote an open letter about his concerns regarding the bill.

WRAL: How we found out about N.C. bill debate

"People from these companies do not understand discrimination against gay and lesbian people," he said. "They would look at North Carolina and say, 'Why is North Carolina going down this direction?' "

"I think this a terrible mistake," he added.

Folwell said the amendment would have "zero impact on private employees and whether they choose to offer same-sex benefits to their employees."

CNN's Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

soundoff (756 Responses)
  1. Mrstime1

    What are these morons so afraid of? Don't they realize the only threat to their marriage is themselves?

    September 12, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      The problem is the future sacrifices that will be made. EXAMPLE: CA just mandated gays be put in school text books and 'if it is immoral to you, you should remove your morally sensitive children from public school'...... So even though I dont judge or hate anyone I certainly don't condone immoral behavior nor do I want my children having it crammed down their throat at school.

      September 12, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Les


      If you feel that love in any form is immoral, you are lost. Your views against gays has repeatedly been shown as a lie by scientific studies. Your position on morality is entirely based on ignorance and mistranslation of your Bible and has no basis in the natural world. Your Bible says that you should take your example from nature. Watch a few dogs or cows sometime to see what natural is. Finally, all religions do not see gayness as a moral issue at all. If a law is based on religious distortions then it is a bad law. Period. Send your kids to a private school or home teach them. That way they will grow up with the same skewed and silly beliefs about morality that you have. It is time for people to take a stand and embrace LIBERETY for ALL. Not just the Xtrians wackos.

      September 12, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      I pitty you Les... reading your comments on this page, shows how lost you are. First there were many women to step up in church, although men are our leaders (per your bible knowledge) and all christians are taught to spread the word, the truth and the love of God. Many are misinterpreting what we believe as hate. A true christian does not hate, but prays for. As for politics, I rarely get involved but as I've stated this deals with my family, and our environment. I didn't mistranslate a thing from the bible and is totally relevant since America was founded under God and our money still says "trust in god'... You although seem to be confused with taking example from nature lol implying animals that are gay should be followed/admired?? Since we are speaking of animals, the creatures that don't speak and have no brains... what about the snake who convinced eve to eat the apple? The devil comes in all forms and tries everything he can to make sin tempting. And love is not immoral, Sin is... a drug addict loves his drugs more than anything else on the face of the earth.. Love is not the problem. The drug is.

      September 12, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gleaux

      ashley For a supposed Christian woman, your lack of empathy and compassion is astounding. By your comment about gay animals you obviously comprehend that some creatures of God, including humans, are born gay. Science has proven this to be true. Since being gay is their nature, why should gay individuals be denied the right to love and marry another consenting adult of their choice. You may not agree due to YOUR personal religious beliefs but this does not make it right to trample on the civil rights of other citizens.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tom Legare

    If these Repubs had their way, segregatioin would be made legal again. Such backwards people!!

    September 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      So true! Republicans have already managed to resegregate the schools in Wake County, NC. Now this?

      September 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dina

      No your confused !! God fearing people !!! not backwards your just all about your sin !!!! good for you move to san fran Im sure they would love your kind !!! otherwise pick up a bible , you might surprised

      September 12, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith in SoJax

      Dina, using the Bible as a weapon isn't very Christ Like. Its more like breaking the golden rule.

      September 12, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dal

      Dina, the Bible does not say it is a sin to be gay. That is an ancient myth still clung to by people who don't think for themselves and by self-hating closet cases. Believe whatever you want, but you can't force anyone else to live by your beliefs. This is not Iran. PS: grammar – check into it.

      September 12, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      the christian taliban way of life.... interpret the good word to one of peace and luv via hate.....

      September 12, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      DAL did you just say it is not a sin to be gay???!! Well for Christians it is, the people who read the Holy bible. Incase you lost the sodom and Ghommorah book let me remind you of that saying not to lay with strange flesh... or are you just some nutcase with a church trying to get money from people by letting them think their sin is ok???

      September 12, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Les


      You most likely use the King James Bible which is riddled with mistranslation and if I were a betting man, I would guess that you are one of those "e(vil)angelicans" or some practice some other conservative Xtian fringe trashy schizoid faith. The world will be a far better place when your form of Xtianity is nothing more than a a passing sentence in a history book. You nor any other person of faith has any right to impose their stupidity on the majority of right thinking citizens. Besides that your Bible absolutely FORBIDS you to teach men and it demands that you keep silent in the churches. There are many men here so you are going to hell for even thinking of "teaching" your distorted sinful viewpoints. If I were you, I'd zip it and beg for forgiveness from your impotent god.

      September 12, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jordan scene©

    When will these conservative extremists learn? Alls they're doing is upholding a prejudice against a way of life that's different than there's, so in a way these legislators are being pretty descriminating... As long as the majority of people in NC aren't as ignorant as their legislators, I don't see why this useless waste of time legislation won't bite the dust

    September 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yemmus


      September 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      ooohh Nc isn't ignorant but very family oriented and church going folks so don't be surprised if immoral marriage is banned in that good old state.

      September 12, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    Another state to stay far away from. They have a history of denying rights so this is no surprise. I will be sure not to spend my dollars there.

    September 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. George

    So not fair. What about my boyfriend. I wanna mary him.

    September 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      so? what's the problem? move somewhere it is legal.. it's never been legal in NC and i wouldnt look forward to that day

      September 12, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. xjdavid

    Divorce is a bigger threat to marriage than letting more people get married. Why isn't anyone pushing a measure limiting divorce? I have yet to hear a reasonable argument against gay marriage that warrants banning it.

    September 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Saboth

      Me either. I'm still waiting for some kind of concrete study or something that shows how it is bad for our society. I want ONE conservative to explain to me what is wrong with gay "marriage". I'm talking about being married in the eyes of the state and federal, not a church. My rules: you have to explain it using facts, and you can't mention the Bible or God.

      September 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Les

      Actually divorce is a sin, along with premarital s-e-x, and lusting in your mind and...the list of crap is long.......The presumption that "God" even cares is wildly ignorant. Thank Goddess, my wife and I are Pagans and have gods that are far more interactive and nonjudgemental. Although I must admit that we occasionally call upon Yahweh if we need a good storm or two to wet the garden or flood the unnatural gas sites. This last batch of sacrifice and poxes put a stop to drilling for a couple of weeks. Now, Dina, what has your 3 gods given to our Mother Gaea today? Inquiring minds need to know.

      September 12, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ozymandias71

      Notice all the 'Christians' who rant and rave about 'morality' never respond to posts concerning divorce?

      September 13, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dal

    ...and here we have the view of a closeted redneck teenager.

    September 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Armin

      ...and here, a brainwashed multiculturalist tool who watches too much TV and has based his perception of stereotypes and reality on Hollywood propaganda

      September 12, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jose Wan Sekiavich

    I am so sick and tired of these conservative tea bagger nut job republicans playing political football with an issue that is very real to many. I would like to see them do something positive with their time in office that might actually help the citizens of this country, rather than just be mean, hateful and bigoted.

    September 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jannynet

      I agree!

      September 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. da

    LOL...Republican are trying the ole gay marriage agenda again to get folks out to vote come next year!!! WOW, this is too funny....I guess they are definitely, going try their best to not let the President have their State again. LOL

    September 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mike Lake Orion Michigan

    Thank God at least one State has their act together!

    September 12, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dina

      Amen to that !!!!! God Bless you

      September 12, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimtom

      That's right! If there's one thing I know about God, it's that he sits up there above us is filled with hate. "That little guy, I really screwed up when I made him. It's a good thing there are so many people loyal to me who will tell him how evil he is."

      September 12, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      Mike, Dina.. i love u north carolinians!! And just a lil FYI God hates sin, not sinners jimtom

      September 12, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ozymandias71

      Yeah, and I'm sure all the Gay and Lesbian North Carolinans will 'feel the love of Christ' from this legislation. Yeah. /eyeroll

      September 13, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. Yul Strok'eet Awl-Wasch

    Another waste of money time & effort.

    In the Carolinas that need a law that says they cant marry their sheep.

    Baaaaa means Nooooo.

    September 12, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted Ryder

      I live in NC sir. I am a proud citizen of this state. We are mostly very progressive. Ever heard of RedHat? But to your original point, when a sheep says BAAAHHH they really mean yes. Besides, most of us have cut back our sheep lovin' to twice a week....geesh!

      September 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Les


      Only twice a week? No wonder lamb is so expensive now a days! You best get out there and help increase the lamb populations even more so it isn't so expensive to feed the family and still throw a piece or two on Ye Olde Altar.

      Bringing in the sheep..Bringing in the sheep, we shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheep!.....

      September 12, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Robert

    How about banning Republicans/Conservatives from getting married? It will only be better for our gene pool.

    September 12, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brian - Milwaukee

    If the gays don't like it they can move to san francisco and marry their dog too (or cat... not to discriminate).

    September 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not Fat

      And here is a good example of the intelligence of your garden variety bigot.

      September 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Are ignorant, uneducated children really allowed to comment in these forums?
      Don't you have a cross burning to go to?

      September 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian - Milwaukee

      No, just giving you people all the freedom to do what you want without infringing upon the rights of the majority. Yeah, we are still a democracy. Good luck in SF fat one!!!

      September 12, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Liam

      It worries me that you do not understand the difference between an adult human and a common household pet.

      September 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Saboth

      I agree. I'm going to marry a fine Christian woman just like the Bible tells me to. Then divorce her like 50% of other Christians do, as I'm sure the Bible is fine with it.

      September 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dina

      Hahaha very true ! way to keep it cool ! Amen to that !! so nasty

      September 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Zach

    What happened to being the land of the free?

    September 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dina

      Nothing is free! everything has a price except Gods love and mercy ! he paid for your sins so that you may live and learn of Gods amazing grace and spending your eternity in heaven with him. ! He was bought and paid for a price that we cannot even imagine.

      September 12, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dal

      Dina, people who don't share your religion are sick of hearing about your religion and your sky wizard.

      September 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred Evil

      "He was bought and paid for a price that we cannot even imagine."
      Did you just call Jesus a gigolo?!

      September 12, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      what happened to being founded under God?? isn't that saying still on money somewhere....

      September 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ozymandias71

      ashley – "isn't that saying still on money somewhere...." Yeah, right next to the All-seeing Eye and the incomplete pyramid – both potent pagan symbols. Your point?

      September 13, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. CMac4

    If this bill passes, I will truly be ashamed to live in North Carolina.

    September 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • JDT

      and I won't take my wife and kids there for vacation...

      September 12, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dina

      You should just be ashamed for thinking anything but the correct biblical way! somdom and gomorah were not a make believe story like people wish it was !!! Get it together their is a God !! lesbian gay or transgender there will come a day and it will not be a joyous ocasion !!!

      September 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • apeman

      @ dina, Why do you care if you're not one of the condemmed??? Believe your fairytale version of life and shut up while the rest of us have to deal with your ignorance....

      September 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      You know for the people who live in NC this is a serious matter because it could be a turning stone for our state. So whether gay or not, this affects us all. I am not trying to get on the CA bandwagon and blur the lines of morals and what is right and wrong.

      September 12, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
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