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. Mr J

    It will all come down to money. Those ammendments wont last. Gay people spend millions and millions a year on travel and entertainment. When they stop visiting these dark-age states and the revenue falls again, the states will be begging for the retrun of the gay $$!

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

    What are they so afraid of? This is NC's way of saying more government is better than less government.

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

    PS – I am sure your kid is gay anyway

    September 14, 2011 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. t3

    I can clearly say one thing. Ashley you need serious psychological help. You can tell just by reading your posts. I'm not saying I agree or disagree, you are crazy go seek help.

    September 14, 2011 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jill

    This sounds a lot like the justification used to refuse interracial couples from marrying each other only a few decades ago. Check out a brief description of Loving vs. Virgina on wikipedia. The state of Virgina lost the court battle due to a violation of the 14th amendment, which I believe applies here as well.

    September 14, 2011 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. JD

    I'm tired of Moral religiously charged zealots pushing their agenda on everyone. This argument works both ways. Straight guy here too, and gays have yet to affect me...

    September 14, 2011 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. New yorker

    The USA would be such a better country with out the south holding it back.. Dam you Lincoln why didn't you let them separate from the union to wallow in their own filth. The confederates are back! And we need to ban their racist flag already it's worse than the Nazi flag.

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

      Yes... Because the south wants to start a genocide on people they don't agree with. /roll eyes

      September 14, 2011 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Jill

      I'm very disappointed. I'm a gay woman from the South East. This is my home, and I love it here. My sisters live here, my best friends lives here, and my partner lives here. We would love to continue to live here with our family, but we wish that we could get married, just like our close friends and siblings. My dad says that we don't need a "stamp of approval" from the government, and I think he might be right. However, I wish we could take advantage of some of the benefits of marriage, like being on the same health insurance plan, power of attorney, and so forth. And I have to admit, perhaps I'm a little more traditional than my dad...because I want to get married for the same reason as plenty of other straight couples do...to proclaim my commitment to my partner, to whom I have been devoted for years, even though I am told it is a sin.

      September 14, 2011 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. poppypavot

    That is really sad. THAT is all you have to think about really? REALLY? Pathetic. That is so old fashioned. This country is in the crapper-and has been since Bush. AND THIS is what people chose to focus on? Well in that case-
    Go gay marriage!

    September 14, 2011 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  9. blackguy

    A question for you liberals. Do you also agree with allowing (consenting adult) polygamists to marry? If yes, great. If not, why? Couldn't all of the arguments used for gay marriage apply to polygamy as well? Thoughtful feedback is appreciated.

    September 14, 2011 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      blackguy: i would have no problem with polygamy. Implying consenting adults, of course. And, I am not a liberal.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Caz

      I have no problem with adult, consenting polygamy. What business is it of mine?
      (gay woman in boston)

      September 14, 2011 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      (straight middle aged guy in detroit)

      September 14, 2011 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Mott the Hoople

      That's true. And also, why not allow legalized incest (as long as they are adults)? You know, Mom could marry her son. Dad can mary his daughter. Brothers and sisters can get married. Gay marriage opens up a can of worms.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      mott: as long as the government is out of the business of licensing it, i got no problem with it

      September 14, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @blackguy: yeah, that would be none of my business also.

      September 14, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
    • wildbynature

      I have no problem with it. Granted, I'm a little concerned for the gender of partners involved (If a man can have multiple wives, can those wives have multiple spouses as well?), but that's more due to my ignorance regarding the actual issue. In any case, who am I to deny others their rights?

      September 14, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. YoMama

    You're the sicko.

    September 14, 2011 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. john

    I'm not sure why a gay family would want to live in NC anyway. I wouldn't live there and I'm straight.

    September 14, 2011 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  12. NastySodomites

    A great nation once stood where you live now. It protected the majority from the small minorities intent on its downfall. Now, the small minorities of the psycological ill, greedy and lazy prey upon us and use a corrupt system to take away the rights of the majority and their loved democracy. Fortunately, this once great nation is almost dead, grasping for her last breath of air. Those whom destroyed her will pay a huge price for what they have done.

    September 14, 2011 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • avgthinker

      What a bigot. What an evil judgmental creature you are. Even your own religious teachings would teach you to behave and feel differently. Most so called Christians, clutch their bibles and spit out the rhetoric you just did citing our downfall. Yet they forget that the teachings of the person that their religion is named for. Christ would not behave like modern Christians. Yet you cling to old testament teachings (which is the Jewish Torah for you uneducated Christians out there....it isn't even your book....it is their book!) and forget all about the teachings of Christ. No wonder I feel as I do about religion. You pick and choose only the parts you want at the time and throw out the rest as irrelevant. You swallow each and every sermon as if it were from God himself and follow blindly without thinking for yourself. There is a reason that Christ is often referred to as a Shepard. You people are really basically sheep and are expected to follow along blindly and ignorantly.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
    • ProudAmerican

      Although I agree with you, that a small fraction of our society is causing our downfall, and in this particular case is the the gays and lesbians. Our nation overcome this injustice. America has alway bounced back, and as soon as we can put these folks back in the closet where they belong, we will come back again.

      September 14, 2011 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. AJ

    I have an idea.... If you don't like what North Carolina is doing, don't live there!

    September 14, 2011 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      love it!

      September 14, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. MuyGuapo

    Good for NC for standing up for the traditional family. At least there will be a place of refuge from all of the craziness in the world today.

    September 14, 2011 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
    • melody

      Yes, they can take refuge in their own kind of craziness.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      how is this "standing up for the traditional family"?

      September 14, 2011 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. melody

    I'm from Canada, where we have had legal gay marriage for a few years now. Nothing terrible has happened, the social fabric remains as strong as it ever was, and gay people can now experience the pain of divorce just like the rest of us. I don't understand the prejudice against gay people marrying. Really, how does it affect anyone's life?

    September 14, 2011 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
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