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. Withheld

    I don't understand how marriage is a political issue when it's clearly a religious issue and therefore outside of the power of the government to regulate. I don't want the government telling my church who it can or cannot give a marriage ceremony.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      Marriage is NOT a religious issue. Religion is not law. Marriage is a legal action. Why do you think you can get married at a courthouse? I hired an officiant for my wedding and there was ZERO use of religion during the ceremony.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      Who do you think created marriage? the gov? pittiful soul...

      September 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      pitiful ashley...marriage exists in ALL cultures, including the ones that have nothing to do with your religious beliefs (which in the entire span of history, greatly outnumber Christianity). For thousands of years, marriage was a property agreement, where a man owned a woman and did another man (the woman's father) a favor by removing her from his care. You should be thankful that straight marriage was redefined ashley, otherwise you'd probably need your husband's permission to make all these silly posts (plus, under the world-view and law of Leviticus, he'd probably have full license to beat you senseless for being so ignorant).

      September 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      Adam the holy matrimony was the origination of what we call marriage. And I still obey and support the leader of my household (my husband) and as for womens rights, I didn't realize they changed vows for that? how did you come across that info?? And as for my husband beating me or what not I don't knwo what part of the bible you are getting that from. Please explain.

      September 13, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fact checker

      @Withheld – “I don't want the government telling my church who it can or cannot give a marriage ceremony.”

      I can’t tell you how moronic that notion is, seeing as how same s3x “relations” go against the beliefs of pretty much ever religion on the planet. Do you even know of a church willing to perform the ceremony?

      @Todd – “Marriage is NOT a religious issue.”

      Amen brother….. or not I guess. LOL! See this everyone! This is called a FACT.

      @Ashley – “Who do you think created marriage? the gov?”

      Marriage pre-dates reliable recorded history. Therefore marriage also pre-dates both religion and politics. Unless fire worshipers invented marriage, but either way people created both religion and government.

      @Adam – It’s you and Eve, not you and Steve right? LOL! Sorry I had to. Great FACTUAL post!

      September 13, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      Your church is free to have whatever requirements it wants to. However, we are talking about what marriages will be given official government recognition.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. Brett Moore

    "Individual rights are not subject to a public vote;
    a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority;
    the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities."
    - Ayn Rand


    September 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      So correct! that is why Marriage belong in the church. where it was created.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoReDumdlicans

      @Ashley....Hey Ashley, why don't you put down your burning cross and take off your white robe for a minute and relax. If you want to be a bigot and hate gay people that is your business. But, your religion has no place in government. You may be happy now with what just happened. However, be rest assured that in the very near future...maybe 5 will be very upset when common sense takes over and gay marriage is made legal NATIONWIDE!!!! Oh, and stop it with the "I don't hate sinners, I hate sin." You are a bigot plan and simple, just own it. Here, I will show you how it's done....I think you are a narrow minded bigot who should be outcast from society and wiped off the face of this earth. I own that statement and make no apologies for it.

      September 13, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      So, Ashley – as long as they get married in a church you support gay marriage?

      September 14, 2011 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Suzanne

      @Ashley...If you re-read that quote you will see that it means to protect the gay community (us/the minority) from racist, hypoctritical bigots (the majority) like yourself. So before you say AMEN to something make sure you understand it.

      As for people throwing up what our ancestors did, you need to realize that there is always some minority that is being oppressed. We did it to the slaves once upon a time, yet now you do it to the Gay community. It keeps being brought up because it keeps being repeated. If you spread ignorance it just breeds more ignorance, so spread some knowledge and we all might learn something.

      October 2, 2011 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. Whats the matterWith held?Gay?

    If you like it,just be honest. Gay!

    September 13, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    A warm congratulations to North Carolina for this. It's the last southern state (unless you count West Virginia as part of the South) to not have had a chance to vote on this critical issue. Glad to see that a good bipartisan majority sided with this.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raleigh Jim

      You clearly have no idea of this situation or that of which you speak. North Carolina has taken another step backward by allowing personal issues on the legislative agenda. The Republican leadership, not a bipartisan majority, has pushed through legislation that dismantles many of the advances that North Carolina has become known for over the past few decades; the current House and Senate are slowly destroying this state.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      And watch the jobs stay away because of it. Btw, Steve is a really gay name. Are you a self loather?

      September 13, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I came back and see that some haters have commented on my post. You know you've got the upper hand in an argument when someone says your name sounds 'gay' to try to back their post up. I won't even justify the question with an answer.
      RaleighJim said: "You clearly have no idea of this situation or that of which you speak. North Carolina has taken another step backward by allowing personal issues on the legislative agenda. The Republican leadership, not a bipartisan majority, has pushed through legislation that dismantles many of the advances that North Carolina has become known for over the past few decades; the current House and Senate are slowly destroying this state."
      I'm afriad that you Jim don't know what you're talking about. 10 Democrats joined the GOP in the house (quite a few really) to pass this. Plus North Carolina is more conservative than you realize. This does nothing to take the state backward or block business to come in as some naive people have suggested. Even California and Oregon have anti-gay amendments!! What North Carolina did was absolutely right and I support them 100% for doing it. And for all the 4th grade-mentality people around who are viciously attacking those who support NC, GROW UP!!

      September 14, 2011 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. terrbear

    I'm so glad the republicans are so much in favor of small goverment. What are they so afraid of they might "catch the gay". I would think they have more important issues to deal with than peoples personal lives.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gill Bates

    Next on Southern states agenda: reauthorizing slavery – all they need is 51% of the voters, right?

    September 13, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      lol more ignorant racism... when do people stop throwing up stuff our ancestors did???

      September 13, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amber

      @ashley – When their grandchildren stop basing their decisions on a mentality from the 1800's. In your entire life, have you actually met anyone that's gay? If you have, and you still spout off your ignorant certainly don't love people the way a good "Christian" should.

      September 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. docfee

    lets get brave and smart and set it up as : vote for or vote against and let the people decide. looks like we are voting on the issue in a 1 sided manner. Yes we allow, no we don't, would be fair and balanced (damn I hate they have corrupted that slogan!!)

    September 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    If it is already against the law, why put it into their const it ution?
    Seems like a bit of overkill to me.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Martha Stewart

    I do hope that you and your husband , will be very happy.Good luck Todd.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    For those who care, there is a difference between holy matrimony and just plain old getting married.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    I find that the people who use the slogan "fair and balanced" usually aren't, docfee.
    I, too, have come to hate that saying.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. leeintulsa

    Why is marriage a joke unless they are gay? Fine for reality television, but not reality?

    I think many heteros prefer their gay friends promiscuous. A vote against gay marriage is a vote for AIDS.

    September 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. amanda devlyn

    I think that there are way more important issues NC needs to work jobs! Government has no business dictating who can and cannot be married-this will not pass in 2012

    September 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      That would be refreshing.. But how do you keep fundamentalists and fascists from voting? We couldn't in oklahoma.

      By the way, our 'sharia law' crap couldn't stand up to one law suit, lol. Just so ya'll know..

      September 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      You are right! Marriage belongs in the church! Where it was started! But banning gay marriage will 100% pass in NC, if you are from there you would be certain.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suzanne

      @Ashley...once again no one said anything like it belongs in the church yet that is what you post. If you are so certain that amendment to define marriage as being between a man and a woman will pass then you do not know much about the state you live in. Do you know how many gay couples or citizens there are that claim to be gay and live in NC? Maybe you should do your research and look at the census and you would see that the numbers are up. From 2000 to 2011 the gay population has increased 68%.

      October 2, 2011 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. CK

    Today, I regret that I moved my business to North Carolina.

    September 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      Did you already unpack?

      September 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      Yea.. I'd run on outta there and leave those God worshipers to themselves!

      September 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoReDumdlicans

      @Ashley....I wish you nothing but pain, sorrow, and anguish in your life. Just wishing on you what you are wishing on gays a a result of ban gay marriage.

      September 13, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      wow really.. hmm.. pain sorrow and anguish because of no tax rights in most (not all) of our states hmmm... well for you i will continue to pray

      September 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • BretLA

      trashley - don't do any of us any favors by including us in your bigoted prayers. I'm a Christian and people like you give us a bad name. For you to claim that marriage was "invented" in the church is so bafflingly stupid to say if you would simply pick up a world religion or history book and educate yourself beyond your cherry picking nose.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      @ashley – Tax rights? Is that what marriage is all about to you?! Sad.

      February 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Donthaveone Starfire

    I guess the majority of Southerners have no idea about the American Ideals of FREEDOM and LIBERTY. Persons should be allowed to do whatever they want as long as they don't hurt (and I am not talking about feelings) others. Live and let live. Don't tread on me. Live free. ETC. As an American I don't have to approve of your lifestyle but I believe it is VERY important to protect it.

    September 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
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