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. Derweissengel

    @thetruth – You're not upsetting anyone. You're making us laugh hysterically at your complete ignorance.

    September 13, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer


      September 13, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. clearmind

    I am pretty sure the various tribes of american indians have us all beat in the `beaten down` column. gays etc have it pretty darn good compared to them. so lets not get carried away with `the whole world is against me` whine

    September 13, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • sck

      Yeah don't bother any of us with that "give me equal protection under the law" stuff, it isn't like that is a fundamental right of being an American citizen.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      if you believe in marriage so much, ban divorce. These bans are hateful hyprocrisy.

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


    September 13, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer


      So you are gay and trashing gays on here?

      September 13, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. T3chsupport

    Way to perpetuate the stereotype, ya hicks.

    September 13, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. GullibleChristians

    The world would be better off without these gullible and violent christians.

    September 13, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. gdssd

    Vote for corn holing in 2012!

    September 13, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. clearmind

    Beside get married (and that isnt everywhere anymore) what cant you do because you are so oppressed? hmmm!

    September 13, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      So the only problem and discrimination against gays is getting married? hmmmmmmmmm....

      September 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sowhat?

    i've got the solution: if you don't like gay marriage, then DON'T GET GAY-MARRIED! leave everyone else be.

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

      TRUE!!!! LOVE IT!!!

      September 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. leeintulsa

    @ashley: the word you're looking for is tolerate, not respect.

    September 13, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Stoopid Narthrner

    Remember what happened the last time a southern state tried to define people as subhuman? The north won and now all of your white daughters are having mixed babies. Now they're going to be having half straight half gay babies.

    September 13, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Zoe79

    Ick, so glad I left that state when I had the chance – cut funding to Planned Parenthood and now a gay marriage ban? Wow. I can't believe people are passing these hateful laws when there are real problems going on in this country they are blatantly ignoring. Not to mention, it's a ridiculous battle that they will loose in the end – gay marriage will be legalized in this country in all 50 states one day, it's inevitable, so postponing it momentarily makes no sense. Change will come, and people will laugh at this close-mindedness.

    September 13, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      i agree. berger says that the reason they are trying to pass this is because he knows the issue will keep coming up. unfortunately for him, an amendment isn't going to stop the issue from continuing to come up. not even amendments last forever. the only thing he'll accomplish by passing this is to be forever tied to a failed amendment that had to be repealed shortly after it was passed.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivingInNC

      Don't forget the new abortion rules, the abortion state plates, "tort" reform, they've been super busy working on the economy in NC! They want to "get government out of people's lives" though.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Pimpson

    Great call, NC. Next step, ban gays from public places entirely...

    September 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • thetruth


      September 13, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      A bigger problem for SOME people would be if North Carolina banned ignorant h0mophobes.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    Ashley, that's all gay people want is the civil right to marry.
    If, according to you, God doesn't recognize civil marriages anyway, then what are you arguing against?

    September 13, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      It should not be confused as marriage... it's all suppose to be so seperate yet so simmilar// Holy matrimony/matrimony/civil union/marriage.... The way I see it, is Holy matrimony came first, they gave it legal rights and call it marriage. Then civil unions were created (which I don't believe should be called a marriage). And now Gay marriage is created and again I do not think it should be called marriage.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      I think enough people make a mockery of marriage without adding a new problem.. We needs to fix the problems with marriage we already have.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. thetruth


    September 13, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pimpson

    Great move. Glad this state is standing up against perversion.

    September 13, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      Ever seen rhonda does raleigh? That ship has sailed..

      September 13, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
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