Voters in North Carolina turned out in massive numbers to approve an amendment to the state constitution that would ban recognition of all same-sex relationships. The measure won by a margin of 61 to 39 percent, according to the Charlotte Observer, and encouraged the largest voter turnout for a primary in many years.
Disparate political blocs united against the latest cultural controversy: Conservative, affluent suburban voters found common ground with rural voters and with religious African-Americans, a group that supported Obama overwhelmingly in 2008 but often sides with conservatives on social issues. In contrast, voters in the state’s largest urban areas–Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville, Raleigh and Durham—defeated the measure, as did younger voters.
The ballot asked North Carolinians if they approved or disapproved a “Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” Recognition of any same-sex relationship, including domestic partnerships and civil unions as well as marriages, will be banned when the amendment goes into effect on January 1, 2013. Opponents of Amendment One warned that some protections for unmarried heterosexual couples and families would be eliminated if the measure passed, but that was not enough to overcome voters’ prejudice against equality.
North Carolina’s legislature banned same-sex marriage in 1996.
Despite the strong feelings against marriage equality in the South—North Carolina was the last state in the region to enshrine discrimination in its state constitution—the bill’s chief backer, Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis, expected Amendment One to be repealed within a generation due to changing attitudes toward gay rights, the Observer reported.
This September, the Democratic National Convention takes place in North Carolina’s capital, Charlotte—an awkward juxtaposition that highlights President Obama’s equivocal support for same-sex unions. In November, voters in Minnesota will decide whether to amend its constitution with a same-sex marriage ban, while Maine voters will have a chance to repeal its ban on same-sex relationships.