Marriage Amendment Goes to Voters

Special Report - September 14, 2011

In just over 24 hours, the General Assembly accomplished what pro-marriage advocates have been asking it to do for eight years—pass marriage protection legislation to place a Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA) before the people of North Carolina. The second special session of the General Assembly, which is expected to adjourn today, was dedicated to the consideration of constitutional amendments. The Marriage Protection Amendment was the highest priority amendment under consideration.

With 30 senators voting for SB 514—Defense of Marriage, the Legislature gave final legislative approval to the bill, which now provides North Carolina voters the opportunity to approve a Marriage Protection Amendment on their 2012 primary ballots. North Carolina’s primary is usually in May, but changes to the state’s redistricting proposal could require that the date of the primary be changed.

House members used a procedural maneuver to pass a version of the bill that was unable to be amended by the Senate. Both chambers moved the bill quickly through committee and to the floor for consideration. The first House vote—a bipartisan 76-42 approval of the bill—and the final Senate vote of 30-16 on SB 514 were taken less than 22 hours apart. While some members who opposed the bill complained about the speed with which the bill moved through the General Assembly, advocates reminded legislators that a similar version of this bill has been filed for eight years, and that the leadership made clear their intentions to take up a Marriage Protection Amendment during the short session that began as scheduled on September 12.

The brevity of the session made for an eventful two days. Both supporters and opponents of the MPA held rallies outside the legislature. Thousands of citizens met with their legislators or contacted them through phone or email. Lobbyists, pastors, and business leaders scurried through the hallways, ducking in and out of legislative offices to speak with members. Projected vote tallies were counted and recounted dozens of times by coalitions on both sides of the issue. In the end, 170 men and women, elected to represent the people of North Carolina, were asked to vote “yes” or “no” to giving the citizens of this state the opportunity enjoyed by citizens of 30 other states, including every state in the south, except North Carolina—the chance to vote on preserving the definition of marriage in the State Constitution. In the end, 75 representatives and 30 senators provided the three-fifths majority needed in each chamber to do just that.

In 2012, the voters of North Carolina will be faced with the decision to vote “for” or “against” the following on their primary ballots: “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.” Every state that has put this question to its citizens has seen the same result—protecting marriage in the constitution. The next eight months will be filled with campaigning on both sides of the issue.

“We are pleased that North Carolina voters will finally have the opportunity to place the definition of marriage in the State Constitution,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “We look forward to talking about the importance of marriage and the benefits to children when they have a father and a mother. But today, we join with the people of North Carolina in thanking these representatives and senators for passing the Marriage Protection Amendment.”

Related resources:
Senate Approves Marriage Amendment - September 13, 2011
Marriage Amendment Passes House - September 13, 2011

Copyright © 2012. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.

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