September 13th, 2011
03:03 PM ET

N.C. senate approves putting same-sex marriage amendment on 2012 ballot

North Carolina will put an amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot in May after the state's House and Senate passed the measure.

The measure cleared the Senate by a vote of 30-16, according to Mark Johnson, spokesperson for governor's office. On Monday the House also passed the measure by a vote of 76-41.

Read the bill (PDF)

If the constitutional amendment 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.

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.

“We think the people of this state – not judges, bureaucrats, or politicians – should define marriage, which I personally believe should be between one man and one woman," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said in a statement after the measure passed. "We look forward to eight months of healthy debate before voters decide this issue at the polls.”

The proposed constitutional amendment sparked anger from many Democrats in the legislature, who argued the Republicans were trying to push through the measure since they have control for the first time in 140 years.

Others argued the legislature should be focused on more pressing issues such as the economy or jobs.

That concern also came from North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue.

“I’m focused on solving problems and creating jobs.  This partisan exercise does neither: Same-sex marriage is already illegal in North Carolina, and this constitutional amendment would not create a single job. In fact, it could hurt existing North Carolina businesses - as Speaker Tillis himself acknowledged - and harm our ability to attract new businesses to invest and grow jobs here. “

Sen. Josh Stein, a Democrat, echoed similar thoughts in his comments.

He referred to the cost of having to go through a session and taking up this issue while there are still some people in the state dealing with damage caused by Hurricane Irene.

"What are we doing here?" he asked.

He also echoed some of the comments that Democratic colleagues in the House argued on Monday, that this move would single out specific people and was a step in the wrong direction.

"Most of us have gay neighbors, co-workers, friends and family members," Stein said. "Know that if you vote for this amendment, you will cause them pain."

During his arguments for why the measure needed to be passed, Berger argued that the issue was of importance to a lot of people in the state. He too, echoed comments from his Republican colleagues, that there was no better way to decide than by letting the people make their voice heard.

"There is one thing that I don't think anyone can disagree with. If we don't go ahead and address this issue now, it will continue to come up," he said. "It is time to let the people of this state decide."

On Monday during a House committee hearing and then during the House vote, Democrats argued strongly against passing the measure because both of its content and the lack of a public discussion.

People on both sides of the aisle said what decision they made would go down in 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," Rep. Susan Fisher, a Democrat, said on the House floor Monday. "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."

Rep. Dale Folwell, a Republican, said the vote is really about 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.

soundoff (969 Responses)
  1. Uscaveman

    If you're gay, then be gay. If you're not then don't. But marriage IS between a man and a woman. Nobody is saying you cannot be with your gay partner, only that you cannot marry them. Deal with it

    September 22, 2011 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
    • collin

      " Nobody is saying you cannot be with your gay partner, only that you cannot marry them. Deal with it."
      Nobody is saying you can't drink from a water fountain...just not that water with it.
      Nobody is saying that you can't have a political opinion you just can't with it
      Nobody is saying that you shouldn't make equal money to a man but you won' with it
      Nobody is saying that you have to move off the sidewalk when a white person passes by but you better move off of that side with it.
      Nobody is saying that you aren't're just with it
      Nobody is saying that you can't be love who you long as they are the same with it

      Just a few examples of why people shouldn't just "deal with it."

      January 13, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. future

    when will it be legal for inter-species marriage? i was born this way baby...don't judge me. my cat and i love each other and wanna be married like others who love each other. the gov should step n and santify our love. i have evolved past uni love and soon all of yu will agree inter species love is a right and stop judging us!

    September 26, 2011 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
    • ugh

      I feel sorry for your cat.

      January 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. PC

    My family members, who settled North Carolina and who have worked hard to make it a great state, are collectively rolling in their graves over this amendment.

    September 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. WhatHappenedToLogic

    The people who are pushing for this amendment are the same people who profess their love of this country as a Federal Republic, which is designed to protect minorities. They love telling everyone that the US is not a democracy but a Republic, which means that minorities are protected from the tyranny of the majority. They use this reasoning to lambast anyone who wants to raise taxes on the rich to reduce the deficit because that would be 'class warfare' in the majority of the low- and middle- class raising the taxes of the minority rich. Yet, when it comes to the real rights of a minority, that argument is no where to be found. It becomes 'the people's' right to choose. i.e. the right of the majority to limit the rights of a minority.

    October 3, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. justanother0678

    Cant the government just stop making ridiculous laws that dont benefit anyone? jsut let the damn gays get married, i demand seperation of church and state and im tired of all these religious party members who are suppressing our people. Let people be people. Im so sick of hearing about it, seriously who will it hurt? stop spending millions of dollars, and just let them get married! theres a thought. we have overpopulation issues as it is, and it is well known for gays to adopt, so im not really seeing the downside here?

    October 3, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
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