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. Good Bless NC

    I am starting to look how I can support this blessed state and I am thinking hard to move there.
    Common sense must prevail – NC is just the beginning.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      It's an amazingly beautiful place, with evil as all over the world but so easy to escape when you have your own acre 5 miles from town 🙂

      September 12, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. brenda

    I'm from NC but haven't lived there for a number of years. I love the state, but the legislature sometimes really saddens me. The bible does not ban gay marriage. It really doesn't.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      The bible does not ban gay marriage? I guess it doesn't say that, it just quotes marriage is between a man and woman

      September 12, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Guest

    So apparently I can't comment back where I posted to...

    You are not practicing love and tolerance by supporting this law. This law prevents law and is steeped in intolerance. You say you do not judge yet condemn them for living a life you do not agree with which is very judgemental. You say you are standing up for your beliefs, well it is my belief that the basic rights of a human being should be put before any and all religious beliefs.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      This law prevents love is what I meant to say.

      September 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      Well forgive me, but I cannot see love between two men any more than between a drug and an abuser. It is simply mental. I am certainly standing up for this law, and a month ago I never would have because I don't judge people or hate anyone, it's not on my agenda. The changing factor for me was CA going straight to putting gays in school text books and forcing, cramming that lifestyle down everyones throat.. That means I would have to homeschool my daughters so they would not be subject to such being shoved down their throat. I don't want my children growing up in a society that condones sin.. so as long as i can fight it, i will.

      September 12, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SC Guy

    I warmly congratulate the NC Legislature on this. It was the right decision.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • CatSh

      SC thinks it's the right move ? Dang! Now I know we're going in the WRONG direction! 🙂

      September 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. b. Slider

    maybe they could hire that dead guy in the bath tub weather man/girl to work here

    September 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SupportFreedom

    Nothing good will come of these comments. That's all.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |

      ADAM AND EVE NOT ADAM AND STEVE- WE SUPPORT THIS MOVEMENT!!!!!! NY NEED TO FOLLOW IN N.C FOOTSTEPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      September 13, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. Travers

    Asley has issues *****


    Well forgive me, but I cannot see love between two men any more than between a drug and an abuser. It is simply mental. I am certainly standing up for this law, and a month ago I never would have because I don't judge people or hate anyone, it's not on my agenda. The changing factor for me was CA going straight to putting gays in school text books and forcing, cramming that lifestyle down everyones throat.. That means I would have to homeschool my daughters so they would not be subject to such being shoved down their throat. I don't want my children growing up in a society that condones sin.. so as long as i can fight it, i will.

    She says she doesnt judge people, but does just that.
    She would rather home school her children than let them see the real world
    and learn that there are different people
    out there that love each other and contribute to the "real: world she wants to hide from.
    Life does not go away because you dont like it.
    The man who just delivered your mail....
    The woman who just gave you half a pound of ham at the deli
    Your doctor , your veterinarian , the kid who delivers your newspaper
    they could all be gay, and yet, you would without even knowing them
    would have laws passed to please your selfish little world.
    How sad for you.
    How sad for your children.
    How sad for North carolina.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • leonid

      How is acknowledging that gays exist in a textbook 'cramming' a lifestyle down your throat? It exists. it must be acknowledged.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      and I dont mind not knowing they are gay! lol you just made a story out of me not wanting my kids forced to think being gay is acceptable?? Anyone with commen sense knows that being gay is already widely public. which is fine... but putting it in school and making it seem 'normal' thats ridiculous and as i've explained before i dont judge anyone! God said being gay is wrong.. so what did i judge???

      September 12, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • DONNA

      If any of your children tell you they are gay, will you call them a sinner and through them in the closet so that nobody knows and it won't be jammed down anyones throat? They are not sinners, baby they were born that way. And that is why it needs to be put in textbooks because people need to understand that and to treat them equally.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ardath

      Ashley, would you mind providing the quote where you claim God says being gay is wrong? Book, chapter, and verse, please. Oh, and maybe you should take a good, hard look at the other things He's prohibiting at the same time, and think about what you need to give up in your own lifestyle to conform to that.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      People being born that way is a hard arguement especially with the science .. best way I can explain how i feel is that if you commited your soul and life to god that would be your first and major concern.. i dont think 80% of christians even understand the dedication it takes to enter heaven.. and as God said only a few will.... but if a person 'born' gay works on serving god and getting into heaven the rest should fall into place or not be a concern for them (Perhaps you think that is so cruel but just like many christians the typical person is not willing to sacrifice, but i know people who have sacrificed greatly for the lord, so it does happen)... on the other hand i know God knows our fate before our birth... and i don't believe everyone was made with the intent of being religious or even trying to go to heaven... the devil has always had some power and some control that God has allowed him (Which is where our pain, misery, disease comes from).. i think i could keep rambling on but i am sure my perception, opinion, and ideas are no concern to you anyway... If one of my children were gay i would pray hard for them and i would love them and let them be themselves other than condoning gay behavior... so no they wouldnt have a same se partner over to our home but i would never disown my children.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Ozymandias71

      ashley – " no they wouldnt have a same se partner over to our home but i would never disown my children." Yeeaaahhh, ok – your other comments tells another story entirely.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Collegegrad22

      awww c'mon Ashley! If you want to take this angle then how about divorce? It is a sin, yet it is pretty common for kids nowadays to say "My parents are divorced" or "I have a step mommy and a step daddy", etc. This is no different! Over 50% of marriages end in divorce with many of them involving children! No one seems to blink an eye when a divorced parent comes to pick up his/her son or daughter, but God forbid if his/her gay father/mother picks them up or shows up at a school play!! Then all of a sudden it is called "Shoving it down your throat!" Well quit shoving your "sin" down our throats! Keep it to yourselves if you are divorced, the kids don't need to see/hear/acknowledge this!

      September 13, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      uhm divorce isn't My sin lol... it is a commen sin that is also trying to be hushed and covered up by false prophecies telling people their sins are ok just come into their church. hah!!.. all i can say is read the word for yourself.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. MuyGuapo

    Let the people of NC decide. That's called democracy.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • leonid

      Democratizing human rights is a slippery slope. That's why it took federal intervention to do away with Jim Crow.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Its not "democracy" when we allow a group of our citizens to decide what rights are bestowed on one group but not another. Democracy has a finite beginning and end else it crosses the line of anarchy. Even the high court has ruled the "free speech" has limitations so nothing is without limitations and defining rules.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ozymandias71

      "Let the people of NC decide. That's called democracy." No, it's called Tyranny of the Majority. If a fundamental right of YOURS was put up for a vote, I'm sure you wouldn't be calling it 'democracy'.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Travers

    North Carolina just went backwards in the eyes of the world.
    My hope is that there are enough intelligent people in this state
    to stop this.

    To all North Carolinians.....
    Dont let this happen.

    Your friends in New York (Rochester)

    September 12, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • lynnej

      I don't intend to. If my vote will count, people can marry whom they want. It is so not my business. Instead of meddling in people's bedrooms, they need to meddle up on some jobs and healthcare.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • fng

      sorry, but we have no friends in NY

      September 12, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. donny

    sin is sin....

    September 12, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • EuphoricCrest

      Are you speaking of the sin of hatred, injustice, or intolerance?

      September 12, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      Just thinking.. perhaps he meant no sin is greater than the other and any sin is forgivable through God

      September 12, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • DONNA

      Being gay is not a sin. Hating is a sin.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anna

      Sin is sin, eh? So a sinner is denied marriage you say? That's odd, because I have friends who have stolen, lied, cheated, abused drugs, drank, smoked, coveted, envied, loved money, and every other sin listed. They still wear wedding bands and have marriages. Prisoners aren't even denied marriage. Atheists aren't even denied marriage. why should any other sinner be denied marriage? You don't have to like it, but you have to give humans basic rights. Every person I know is a sinner, this is just one that you can "see" walking down the street. Get with the times. Humans deserve basic rights. Even the sinners.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      so we should reinforce and celebrate sin? not me... and donna how is being gay not a sin??

      September 13, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      Ashley- Stop using bible as a weapon will you? God doesn't like that at all. Gay is not a sin....

      September 13, 2011 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      Stating facts from the bible is no weapon. God hates sin, thats a fact and being gay is a sin also a fact... what book is it you read??

      September 13, 2011 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. Stateof Hate

    So, North Carolina is about to become the State of Hate (Hate State) of the World!

    September 12, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MichaelIL

    Kind of sad, as NC was starting to look a little more appealing to average modern Americans till this...even big growth in Raleigh/Chapel hill/Durham...forward thinking areas.
    Now, due to this in-your-face dumb legislation, NC is going right back to being looked at as a dumb backwater hick State.

    September 12, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      The question I ask u is whether peoples opinion matter or Gods... do whats right for you

      September 13, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. WOT

    NC has always been below the Mason Dixie Line, after their vote they will still be behind in how the World Turn!

    September 12, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DONNA

    Equal rights for all. All people should be able to marry whomever they want. Stop the hate!

    September 12, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. WOT

    Do you people know the definition of SIN. Not loving your neighbor
    yourself and not loving GOD with all your heart!

    September 12, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
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