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May 18. 2012

North Carolina voters pass marraige ban

by Anthony Glassman

Raleigh, N.C.—North Carolina voters passed a constitutional marriage ban on May 8, voting 61 percent to 39 percent in favor of barring recognition of same-sex marriages and similar institutions in the state. It was the last southern state to do so.

The state already had a law restricting marriage to an opposite-sex institution, but a coalition consisting primarily of conservative Christians pushed for the constitutional amendment, drawing one of the largest primary turnouts in decades. It failed in the largest metropolitan areas in the state, but took the rest of the state by a large margin.

Opponents of the amendment warn that it could have unintended consequences, including stripping domestic violence protections from unmarried couples and jeopardizing health benefits.

“The screaming, excruciating paradox of all this is that supporters wanted to take this out of the judges’ hands,” Duke University law professor Mike Munger told the Charlotte Observer. “Clearly it will have the opposite effect. There will be litigation, and judges will have to decide what the darn thing means.”

Pres. Barack Obama urged voters in the state to defeat the amendment, and the NAACP also campaigned strongly against it. North Carolina will be the site of the Democratic National Convention this summer.

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post referred to the passage of the amendment as the LGBT community “losing forward.” While the LGBT community lost, the results showed diminishing support for such amendments—six percent below the national average of passed anti-marriage amendments, and 14 percent below the average for southern states.

Before the election, polling stood with 55 percent in favor of the amendment, 40 percent opposed, with five percent undecided. With all the undecided going to support the amendment, it would have put the results at 60-40, so it was only one percent off based on the “Bradley effect,” the fact that polls on gay issues are more positive than the votes on them. Part of this is because people do not want to seem anti-gay when talking to pollsters; another factor is that younger people, who more often support LGBT civil rights, are less likely to vote than older people, who are more generally opposed to LGBT advances.

Ed Mullen, the executive director of Equality Ohio, analyzed the election, relating it to the efforts to pass same-sex marriage in Ohio.

“Amendment One is deceptively simple, saying: ‘Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.’… By saying that marriage between one man and one woman is the only valid ‘domestic union,’ it prohibits civil unions, domestic partnerships, and any other form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples,” he wrote. “Legal experts also say that the unintended consequences include limitations on domestic violence protections for cohabiting couples, straight or gay, as well as limitations on insurance benefits for children and partners in unmarried families.”                                              |

 

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