Residents of North Carolina on Tuesday approved an amendment to the state constitution that defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman, according to the Associated Press.
With 35 percent of precincts reporting, Amendment One passed with about 58 percent of the vote.
“As momentum for the freedom to marry continues to grow in the rest of the nation, today’s vote is a painful reminder of what happens when a preemptive ballot-measure is stampeded through before people have had enough time to take in real conversations about who gay families are and why marriage matters to them,” Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, said.
“This amendment is a last gasp of discrimination that will cause real harm to families, communities, and businesses in North Carolina, but says little about the prospects for a better outcome in battles to come in states where there has been greater visibility for loving and committed couples and those who get to know them,” he added. “And even in North Carolina, the long-term effect of this nasty attack will be to spur more conversations and open more hearts, helping more people rise to fairness and support for the freedom to marry.”
A number of North Carolina polling stations reported confrontations over the amendment.
North Carolina law already restricts marriage to opposite sex couples, but the amendment to the state’s constitution protects the law from legal challenges. It also prohibits same sex civil unions and domestic partnerships.
Because the proposed amendment states that marriage between a man and women is the “only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized,” Gov. Bev Perdue warned that it could render domestic violence laws invalid for unmarried couples.
After Ohio passed a similar marriage amendment, some judges dropped domestic violence charges in cases involving unmarried couples.
The Ohio Supreme Court later ruled in 2007 that the marriage amendment did not invalidate domestic violence laws for unmarried men and women.
Polls taken days before the ballots were cast showed that a majority of North Carolina voters supported the amendment, even though most of those voters supported same sex marriage or civil unions.
“In some sense North Carolinians are voting against their own beliefs,” Public Policy Polling explained. “53% of voters in the state support either gay marriage or civil unions, yet a majority also support the amendment that would ban both. The reason for that disconnect is even with just 24 hours until election day only 46% of voters realize the proposal bans both gay marriage and civil unions. Those informed voters oppose the amendment by a 61-37 margin but there may not be enough time left to get the rest of the electorate up to speed.”
North Carolina joined twenty-eight other states that have constitutional amendments that prohibit same sex marriages.