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. NC

    Why call everyone in NC a redneck? Mudsling much? Gees. Rednecks...pffft. Just leave already, hater

    September 14, 2011 at 6:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. Eliot

    Good for them, make a stand against that sin. We need to be ever vigilant against the gay agenda, I don`t want my kids heads filled with this filth they try to say is normal behavior. They try to teach it in schools and on TV to indoctrinate our youth with their filth, and I will never stand for it.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      It's not about teaching kids that it's right or wrong. It's about teaching everyone that they exist whether you like it or not, and that they have inalienable human rights, Rights that every human in this country should equally have. Nobody cares if you respect them or shame them, but this has gone farther than that. You're treating them as less than human. Jesus would definitely not have done this.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      What people don't seem to understand is a child cannot concept loving everyone and not everything they do, and it is not my intention for my children to walk around thinking being gy is as normal as having a dog.

      September 14, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shawn

    Doesn't anyone stop and think if they had put desegregation up for a vote? How about interracial marriage? Women's Suffrage? The majority of our country were against these things! They exist today purely because judges back then understood that our country was based on protecting the equality of the minority over the whims of the majority! Are you people that blind to our history that you're ok with voting a minority's rights away?

    September 14, 2011 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff G.

    Wow.... I live in Florida and watch with amazement as the confederacy re-constructs itself. I'm seriously considering a move OUT of this region of the United States. The memories of the civil rights movement have been re-ignited. Hate always seems to congregate in the south..... The warm weather just is not worth it anymore.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. timestickin

    Thats nasty.... How can one guy smell another guys hairy but? then say I-do... whaaaaaat....

    September 14, 2011 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. Franque

    “We think the people of this state – not judges, bureaucrats, or politicians – should define marriage"

    If only the people of the state were trusted to decide things like how much these judges, bureaucrats, and politicians were paid.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:56 am | Report abuse |
    • *blah

      I think if house and senate got a pay cut from $165000 to $65000( still a reasonable amount to live on) the country would save oh about $53,000,000 or so.. half a billion in one year trimmed from the budget.so easy and ao never going to happen because they wont ever let it.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      It's a good thing we can always trust the people to make the right choice all the time. Oh wait, there's a reason we have a judicial branch.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Trevor

      I think you'll find 53,000,000 is a long way from half a billion.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. blackguy

    @ cincinnatus- a well written, intelligent, and insightful comment

    September 14, 2011 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bird

    AMEN!!!!!!

    September 14, 2011 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. t3

    May God bless the southern states, they need alot of help. Another step backwards. Did you not learn anything from the civil war?

    September 14, 2011 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
    • NastySodomites

      Honestly! Do you really thinki that the civil war was fought so that flames could do their thing. I am sure however, you would like to change the history books to show exaactly that though.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
    • NastySodomites

      Honestly! Do you really think that the civil war was fought, and good men died, so that a bunch of foul sickos could do their thing. I am sure however, you would like to change the history books to show exactly that though.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Right, it was fought because of many things, including bigots denying other people their rights

      September 14, 2011 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. Rick

    How is wanting equal rights an "agenda"? Gays marrying doesn't bother me (a straight middle aged guy), why does it bother you?

    September 14, 2011 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
    • wildbynature

      You're awesome! Keep up the good fight! :]

      September 14, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rick

    Also, Jimbo, states don't have morals, they have laws. Individuals have morals

    September 14, 2011 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bill

    Hey Jim
    You really need to get a clue – seriously, you are so lost in the dark it is sick and sad.

    September 14, 2011 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rick

    Yeah, much better to pass on your bigotry to your kids. Congrats on that.

    September 14, 2011 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  14. Morgan

    LOL! So gay marriage is banned and what, gays magically stop buying groceries? God forbid you have to explain anything to your child...

    September 14, 2011 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      It sounds like you made a great point. Whether or not gys can marry life will continue as it has since the begining.... and as for having to explain to our children it is not right for a man/man or woman/woman be together, shouldnt we have the chance to wait until they are old enough to understand you love everyone but not everything they do.

      September 14, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. Bill

    I am sure when you are talking about "stores" you are talking about walmart – I have seen plenty of pictures to know not to go into a walmart and it certainly isnt the gay people i am talking about –

    September 14, 2011 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
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