North Carolina gay marriage amendment may be a big setback for gays as opposition builds up. Meanwhile Bill Clinton has openly come out against it
Even as gays and unmarried heterosexual couples are stiffly opposing it, North Carolina, considered as a much progressive southern state, is on way to approve, what many alleged the most restrictive of the marriage amendments passed in 30 states.
It would amend the state’s Constitution to specify: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”
Gays and unmarried heterosexual couples have the backing of Democrats, which is going to espouse their cause. North Carolina is home to the 2012 Democratic National Convention and is an important swing state.
President Obama has called the Republican-backed Defense of Marriage Amendment divisive, saying it would discriminate against gays.
Pro- and anti-amendment activists have held rallies to compete for voters. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the state has accused proponents of trying to divide gays and blacks. This simply because numerous black churches support it, as do many other churches and some conservative Democrats too.
However, the state’s Libertarian Party opposes the amendment, along with the head of the conservative John Locke Foundation.
More than 75 chief executives have signed a letter against the amendment.
Opponents of the amendment have raised $2.2 million, and proponents $1.2 million, mostly for TV and radio ads. One-third of the money has been raised from other states.
North Carolina’s act––like amendments in Michigan, Idaho and South Carolina––would severely limit protections for same-sex and heterosexual unmarried couples.
Opposition to the amendment is confined to urban centres, such as the capital city, Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area, where support for gay rights is strong.
But small towns and rural communities––where conservative Christian values still predominate––strongly support the amendment. These areas are considered as Republican stronghold. Voters back the GOP on social issues such as gun control, abortion and same-sex marriage.
The website for Vote For Marriage NC, which supports the amendment, says that, if traditional marriage is not protected, “we will have an inevitable increase in children born out of wedlock, an increase in fatherlessness, a resulting increase in female and child poverty.”
A 1996 state law already defines marriage as between a man and a woman. But proponents say a constitutional amendment is necessary to prevent “activist judges or politicians” from overturning the law.
The Republican House speaker, Thom Tillis, who supports the amendment, acknowledges North Carolina’s increasingly liberal leanings. While addressing students at NC State University a couple of months back, he said their generation would one day overturn the amendment. “If it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years,“ he said.
Tillis is aware of the changing demographic profile of the state.