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. Nathan

    This is ridiculous! If Majorities voted on the rights of the Minorities, this country would still be segregated and women would not be able to vote! The second line in the Declaration of Independence states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." That's the principle that this country was founded on. Why, over 200 years later, are we still denying an entire segment of the population the right to pursue their Happiness?

    September 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nathan


    September 14, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Elysia

    Ashly your blissful ignorance makes me want to fill up my bathtub with boiling hot water, plug in my toaster, and kill myself. but before i would drop the toaster in the bath with me i would first let the boiling water scald my skin until all of my nerves were gone. If someone told me that the only way you would ever die was if i did this to myself i would do it in a heart beat. Do you understand what i am saying ashly? YOUR THAT STUPID that you make me a perfectly normal 18 year old straight boy from so cal want to commit suicide. and im sure blah blah blah your gonna pray for me blah blah. please do me a favor and pray for yourself. You know something is going on when at least 700 of the 1000 comments are bagging on ashly. for the LULZ!

    September 14, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      A straight 18 y/o boy named Elysia LOL.... ok so how many people 'bagged' on Jesus for his beliefs? And I would pray for you except you have a magic wizard that can kill me if you take your own life or some moronic senseless story somebody made up? PS I'm in san diego 2, bet u wouldnt know me if u saw me ;D

      September 15, 2011 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. Todd in DC

    Of course civil rights should be voted on the the population. That is how America dealt with women's suffrage and interracial marriage. Oh, wait a minute.... Well at least Americans were allowed to vote on which religions were legal, since that really is a choice... Oh, um...

    September 15, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. ashley

    You know it made me more pasionate about this arguement for people to throw old ignorant racism and prejudice in the air, as if that is Gods law or the christian way, it is not at all.... but i have entertained the idea that when pedophiles will come out stating it is natural for their 'love and pleasure' simply because they cannot stop thinking about it, and cannot change their feelings/attractions... A perversion of the mind is simply what is.

    September 15, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. paul

    The GOP is trying to push their religion on us. It is no longer Christianity but the GOP Religion.

    September 15, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. O.

    Even though I'll be back in the UK by then, I'll be exercising my right to vote to approve this amendment via an absentee ballot. Glad to see it's finally here and hopefully it will pass. 🙂

    Marriage is a covenant for a man and a woman. I'm sure the whaaaaaaaaaaaambulances will be out in force now. Sorry, you're wrong. 🙂

    September 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. J.R.

    And may I also add that it's these so-called "conservatives" - the bed buddies of the religious right - who are always going on and on about less government in our lives - yet here they are, telling us who to marry or not marry. Sounds like plenty of government in our lives to me.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hair Bear

    All I can say is who are we to judge,it's not our job are duty to pass judgement on any soul are body. The bible belt should get a life get over it people.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PB in the NW

    It's about at risk health and the tax payer paying for it. Has nothing to do about religion, the Bible or God.!/pages/Its-About-Health-Risks-Not-Marriage/265781633441894

    September 16, 2011 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mark Yelka

    People love to hate. It has been hard-wired since caveman times. Attack the other tribe! Isn't it clear that gays are offensive? Just like colored skin? Rap music? Mariachi music? Eating snails? Wearing a yarmulke? There is no fair reason to hate. People hate because it makes them feel safer and in control. We haven't evolved past it.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mark Yelka

    People love to hate. It has been hard-wired since caveman times. Attack the other tribe! Isn't it clear that gay people are offensive? Just like colored skin? Rap music? Mariachi music? Eating snails? Wearing a yarmulke? There is no fair reason to hate. People hate because it makes them feel safer and in control. We haven't evolved past it.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. HoustonVol

    If people want to vote on gay marriage which is no where in the bible, but claim that it is god's word. Then support god's word and ban divorce. Which is clearly discussed in the bible as being wrong. Unless you are Pat Robinson.

    I call for a ban on divorce to support god's word.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Iconoclast

      Are you female? if so we should stone you to death for speaking up. Also god's word.

      September 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kevin

    This whole country is so Whack. Why does everyone care about what other people are doing? its no ones business but their own.

    September 16, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. victoria

    should not matter if your straight or gay you cannot help who you love and you should be able to marry anyone you want no matter where you live so long as your not related (but then again I think they might allow that in parts of the south ha ha ha) no seriously. that was really ignorant of me to say just trying to make a point. If more gay people were allowed to marry maybe the divorce rate would go down.

    September 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29