Gay Marriage Referendum Drives High Turnout In North Carolina

May 8, 2012
Originally published on May 9, 2012 8:37 am

North Carolina voters decided to rewrite the state constitution, passing an amendment that makes the only recognized, domestic legal union a marriage between a man and a woman.

The AP made that projection based on an actual tally of votes. With 35 percent of the vote counted, 58 percent of those casting ballots voted in favor of the amendment, making North Carolina the 30th state to adopt such a measure.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the amendment gained national attention, bringing in more than $3.5 million in donations. The paper adds:

"Supporters of the amendment said it would ensure the preservation of traditional families. In addition, they say, it means marriage has an actual definition in the state constitution — and is not subject to definition by 'activist judges' or legislators.

"Opponents said the amendment would be devastating to unmarried women and their children. They said it would strip them of domestic violence protections, and their children would lose health benefits."

During the run up to the vote, former President Bill Clinton recorded phone messages asking voters to reject the measure, while the Rev. Billy Graham endorsed the amendment in full page ads that ran in 14 of the state's newspapers.

As Liz reported earlier, the North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling found that many of the voters did not understand the intricacies of the amendment. The state already had a ban on gay marriage, but this amendment goes further by barring same-sex civil unions.

Our Original Post Continues:

A referendum that would outlaw same-sex marriage and civil unions is driving a high turnout in North Carolina.

As Liz reported earlier, nationally the vote is symbolic, even if former President Bill Clinton and the Rev. Billy Graham jumped in on opposite sides of the debate. Still it's a contentious issue in the state and a mirror of the kind of debate happening nationwide.

Coincidentally, the presidential campaign was drawn into the conversation this week. On Meet the Press, Vice President Joe Biden expressed his support for gay marriage. President Obama has not gone that far, and his position was further highlighted when his education secretary, Arne Duncan, also expressed his support.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the referendum is likely to pass and that the controversial measure might push turnout to record levels. The paper reports:

"Gary Bartlett, the state elections supervisor, told NewsChannel 36, the Observer's news partner, late Tuesday morning that the state-wide turnout could exceed 37 percent. That would make 2012's turnout the biggest for a primary in a quarter-century, Bartlett said.

"Several people questioned by The Observer at precinct places said they were voting for a variety of reasons, but each mentioned Amendment One."

Polls in the state have now closed. We'll update this post as the votes are tallied.

Update at 9:11 p.m. ET. Marriage Amendment Leads:

With 30 percent of the precincts reporting, 57 percent of voters approve of the constitutional amendment.

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