In May, two states—North Carolina and Colorado—put the brakes on the race to legalize same-sex marriage state-by-state.
On May 9, North Carolina voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning recognition of any same-sex unions—domestic partnerships, civil unions and marriage. It was a clear rebuke to the recent wave of states like Maryland and Washington legalizing same-sex marriage. But not much is likely to change in the Tarheel State, at least in the foreseeable future.
“Same-sex marriage was illegal today; it’s illegal tomorrow,” John Dinan, a political science professor at Wake Forest University, told the Associated Press. “There were no same-sex civil unions recognized in North Carolina today. Those will not be recognized tomorrow. The bottom line is there’s not a lot of change because of this amendment.”
Sixty-one percent of voters approved the so-called “marriage plus” bill, effectively ending any chance that North Carolina would ever legalize civil unions or domestic partnerships in lieu of marriage equality. Nineteen states already have a similar “marriage plus” amendment on the books.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, SB2—a bill to legalize same-sex civil unions, but not marriages—died in committee on May 15 before ever coming to a full vote. SB2 was originally passed in the State Senate on April 27, by a vote of 23-12. The bills supporters were gearing up for victory based on an April 2012 Public Policy Polling survey, which found that 53 percent of Colorado voters support the legalization of same-sex marriage. A separate question on the same survey found that 75 percent of respondents support legal recognition for same-sex couples, with 47 percent supporting same-sex marriage and 28 percent supporting civil unions. Opponents and undecided voters made up only 24 percent.
Marriage advocates say the Colorado Republicans, who currently hold a majority in the state legislature, are running out of reasons why they should vote against recognition of same-sex unions of any kind. After all, more same-sex couples live in Colorado than in New York—and in New York, the Republican-controlled Senate ultimately voted on the right side of history.