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. fernace

    This is so blatantly against the 14th amendment:" No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of The United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws!" This basically says that gay people are citizens who should have the privilege to enjoy life, liberty & property, as straights do & that they have equal protection of laws! No state can infringe on these rights, even with an illegal "amendment" to further disenfranchise the gay community! Put that on your ballot & weep NC!!

    September 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fact checker

      100% True! I don't agree with the gay lifestyle, but I also don't think Governments have the right to tell anyone who they can and can't love. Married or not, gays will still be gay, preventing them from getting married isn't going to change that.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mark Yelka

    I'm moving. Goodbye hateful state. California, Washington, and Nevada have community property laws that allow for joint filing, in essence. I think Washington will do. My family here and I are hurt by this. This is legislation that is breaking up families.

    September 13, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      More of this cnn? Well I must say the topic is always going to be passionate. Inevitably NC will ban gay marriage, but we can only pray bigger gov doesn't try to step in for the minority. All I ask is Gov stay out of marriage! They didn't event marriage! lol jeez.. anyone with half a brain knows marriage came from God and is a holy matrimony which was turned into a legal benefit situation.. and if that is what gay people want then find a way for them to get the benefits! but it isn't a marriage between a man and man nor woman and woman. Marriage is most certainly a priority in the church- NOT THE GOV. The gov really does have bigger fish to fry

      September 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      ah oops! Mark I just meant to tell ya bye!

      September 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • AllForOne

      Oh sorry Ashley..... God didn't event marriage. Man invented marriage. Not sure if it was before or after we invented god... but most likely after. I'm sure it was more pressing for man to make up stories to explain what they couldn't understand and attribute it to a higher power (like why sometimes it rains vs. drought.... why is it cold sometimes and other times not.... why is food plentiful then it's not.... why does the sun go down each night.... what are those little lights in the sky at night.... why did my child get sick and die, how did we get here, what happens when we die, etc................................)

      September 13, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • cltpie28

      I left Charlotte a few years ago. Never looked back. I'm much happier living in NYC.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      @ashley – Do you own any slaves? Because "God" also said that it's okay to own slaves. Are you upset that "big government" stepped in for those minorities as well, being that they didn't invent slavery either?

      February 15, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    First the Gays, then the Gypsies, then the Jews, then the Freemasons, then the mentally disabled – oh, sorry, that was Hitler in the 30s.

    Didn't these people learn from the millions of dollars in legal battles California has had to deal with? They are just setting themselves up for a battle that will go all the way to the Supreme Court. Then watch Scallia try to tap-dance around the 14th!

    Also, if they are going to have this as a referendum item it should be on a regular election day when the largest number of voters will be expected to come and cast their ballots – not on some special day set aside when those favoring this bill will make sure their supporters can get the time off to vote for the measure. It is my prediction that this referendum will pass, followed by a legal challenge and a court order to block it the very next day. Good luck budgeting for this, Tar Heel State. When you open a hog farm, you gotta learn to live with the smell!

    September 13, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Charlotte

    I am a born and raised North Carolinian. This behavior in our General Assembly is disturbing. The proponents' justification is that the "issue" (of gay marriage) ought to be decided by the people of our state–"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," (Berger, from above).

    Except that that is not a good way to make these sorts of decisions, and is a great example of exactly why we have judges, bureaucrats, and politicians: so that a frightened majority can't inhibit the rights of a persecuted minority.

    While I hope that the majority of people in my state are non-discriminating, I won't be surprised when conservative interests are able to "mobilize the base" in May.

    The major problems with the "let the people decide" philosophy are obvious: would integration ever occurred if it were put to a popular vote? Or suffrage?

    I hope this can serve as a rallying cry to thoughtful individuals to take action, but still it is a sad day in the Tar Heel state.

    September 13, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Attila

      We could always let the enlightened few decide for us such as nobles,dictators, and the communist party!!

      September 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. J

    Gay men can get married just to women like God intended

    September 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Shelly

      Hey J spounds to me like you are struggling with some issues there buddy.... You sure you havent been checking out men your self you CREEP!!!!

      September 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I was born in NC. I am embarrassed to tell anyone that there are people like you who live in that state. I would never want anyone to know that NC has people so hateful and stupid as to make comments like you have made.

      September 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • TJ

      So are you volunteering your daughters to marry gay men?

      September 13, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex in Minneapolis

      Which god would that be?

      September 14, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      What you fail to understand is your belief in your God is personal. So, your Christian Lifestyle should be kept private. Many people do not want to see or hear of your Christian Lifestyle everywhere. Your Christian Lifestyle is fodder for wars, not peace. And you go against the God you pretend to worship. Keep your nasty Christian Lifestyle to yourself please.

      September 14, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
    • BretLA

      Let's put Christian marriage on the ballot. I'm telling you, its a slippery slope from subjugator to subjugated. You can't discriminate against one class of Americans and not leave the door open for some characteristic you hold to be likewise used as the basis for discrimination. Nothing says Justice is blind...except if youre gay.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Attila

    Again, the people will decide which is what liberty is all about so boo hoo to all the socialist/progressive/communist/liberals!!!

    September 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlotte

      "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
      Boom.

      September 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Yes to gay marriage !!!!!

      September 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moondust

      Im against ALL forms of marriage. Marriage is boring and destroys lives.

      September 14, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. J

    minority rights makes no sense.. Like affirmative action, and excessive immigration. The liberals just love to destroy this country, and need a social welfare state because they can not be successful own their own, probably because they can't live a normative lifestyle

    September 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • L

      a MAJORITY elected our president -the Tea Baggers are only 1% of the population and they are messing everything up including trying to have a default on our debts!!!!! how is that good for my small business?

      September 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Personal liberty used to be a conservative principle. You know... keeping the government from trampling on individual freedom. And yet now, the tables are turned, and conservatives wish to trample the freedoms of the individual through government rule. The majority become bullies, mindless mobs with pitchforks, using majority rule to diminish personal liberty for those they choose to marginalize.

      How pathetic conservatives have become.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      AAaaannn the fact remains- Marriage belongs in the church.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      “That the desires of the majority of the people are often for injustice and inhumanity against the minority, is demonstrated by every page of the history of the whole world” – John Adams

      September 13, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David Shelly

    Here we go again. The GOP just can't stay out of our beedrooms!!!! Pathetic

    September 13, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • b nuckols

      Marriage licenses are not issued in the bedroom.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      exactly b! Nothing to do with what people do in privacy.. this is all about the mockery of marriage, as if there aren't enough people belittling our sacred vows.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • jonathan ruelas

      What you do in your bedroom is you and you're manfriends business, don't make it the publics!!!!

      September 13, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justme1991

      Seriously Ashley? Mockery of marriage??? What about all the straight men and women who cheat on their spouses? And why does the Bible Belt have the highest amount of divorce? Who's really mocking marriage? Hint: It ain't us gays who can't even get legally married in most states! 🙂

      September 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      @ashley – Here's a thought: if you, and people like you, were truly concerned about protecting your "sacred vows," then why not ban divorce instead of restricting marriage? It's bizarre, to me, how someone else's marriage affects your personal life anyway.

      February 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. David Shelly

    OMG I just saw a picture of Phil Berger from the NC Senate and I bet anyone he likes to haver relations with other men!!!!!!!! said

    September 13, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • bravado in boston

      i couoldn't agree more! and he looks like a sissy with that bad hair dye job......goofy closet gay!

      September 14, 2011 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. Gail

    I wonder if there are enough freaks in that state to approve it? It is dangerous to make human rights decisions based on popularity voting. Kind of sick really. The rest of the world already allows gays to marry – America is beginning to look like a weird country (like China). It would be an embarrassing blow to the country if they go forward with it. Everyone who pays tax should have the same rights. This was what the founders of the country fought for...

    September 13, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • jonathan ruelas

      Maybe you should consider moving to China, or France. They are soft, punk, sissy losers like you!!!!

      September 13, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. heather

    How does this ammendment "break up families"? afraid your spouse will jump the fence and end up on the other side?

    September 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • L

      if you want to be with someone and your STATE says "No" that means you have to choose between your blood family and the one you love. idiot

      September 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      My wife and I are married. I'm from Massachusetts, because of jobs, we now live in a state just as bigoted as N.C.

      These laws drive legal wedges between couples and their children (adopted, from previous relationships, by surrogate, or by artificial insemination), making it harder and harder for people to simply live their lives and take care of their families. How can you not wrap your head around that?

      September 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      Michelle, your battle needs to be legality issues not marital issues..

      September 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoReDumdlicans

      @Ashely.....When you have to fight for over 1,100 rights individually then you can talk to us about legality versus the word marriage. You are a pathetic useless piece of skin who would rather argue over semantics rather than mind her own damn business and keep her "god" morals in her own home. Until you have no rights you don't have the right to speak about whats fair and whats not!!!!

      September 13, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. L

    how about those food stamps you probably live on and the medicaid you get for your kids? God damn socialists trying to help other people- they need to be stopped! You are as ignorant a southernor as we westerners all assume.

    September 13, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ashley

    More of this cnn? Well I must say the topic is always going to be passionate. Inevitably NC will ban gay marriage, but we can only pray bigger gov doesn't try to step in for the minority. All I ask is Gov stay out of marriage! They didn't event marriage! lol jeez.. anyone with half a brain knows marriage came from God and is a holy matrimony which was turned into a legal benefit situation.. and if that is what gay people want then find a way for them to get the benefits! but it isn't a marriage between a man and man nor woman and woman. Marriage is most certainly a priority in the church- NOT THE GOV. The gov really does have bigger fish to fry-– ooo and today could we try really really hard not to mix race with being gay?-thanks

    September 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Get over yourself and your limited religion, Ashley. Your church isn't my church. My religion allows any adult couple to marry, regardless of gender. If the government should "stay out of it," then that means my church's stance is just as legitimate as yours. I was married to my wife by an ordained minister. My church recognizes it.

      And... you know what? Atheists can get married, too! They don't need your God's permission to get married. These are human laws we're fighting about. You can believe whatever religious laws you want, but you can't impose them on other people. Couples of any religion and beliefs and lack of religion and beliefs can get married. Your religion has nothing to do with it. In fact, couples have been getting married since before your religion began. The earth is NOT 6,000 years old, evolution is scientific fact, the Tooth Fairy isn't real, and our nation's laws are SECULAR.

      Get over it.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      ok you make up fairy tales, i deal with facts- my bible. And so yes christianity has not always been around, but the belief, the faith, and love of God has been since the start of time. The thing with atheist or other religions getting married and what not is that they are still woman/man and God can put conviction on them at any time. What I believe doesn't have to go for other people by any means, i don't even judge people but i wont sit back and watch my society make a mockery of marriage anymore than it is, and i surely wont sit back and let them pretend being gay is ok. That is intrusive to my religious beliefs. And we can all see where CA is headed, putting gays in school text books... it most certainly does not stop with making marriage legal for gays.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      And from what you've wrote you're not even in NC so perhaps U should get over it

      September 13, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • BretLA

      Sounds like you should move to a place where they favor religion over government. You know, like IRAN. I don't even necessary believe marriage is right for me, but I certainly would not have the audacity to presume that my god, my religion, my definitions are superior to anyone else's, nor would I ever think in the United States of America that any one of us have the right to tell someone else what they can and cannot do. All of us are created equal under the laws - why is that so hard for you to understand?

      September 14, 2011 at 6:05 am | Report abuse |
  14. WOT

    If marriage is so,so wonderful; why is there so much chatting, killing,domestic unrest,and divorce!

    September 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • jonathan ruelas

      Simple, they mostly married jerk-offs like you!!!!

      September 13, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. WOT

    If marriage is so,so wonderful; why is there so much cheating, killing,domestic unrest,and divorce!

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