Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Voters to Define Marriage in May in North Carolina

Although North Carolina passed a law defining marriage many years ago, today the legislature decided to put the issue to the voters to amend the state constitution to define marriage as one man and one woman, in order to thwart any potential future court challenges.

For background, read Marriage Amendment Bill in North Carolina

-- From "Ban on Gay Marriage Gets on N.C. Ballot" by The Associated Press 9/13/11

The state Senate voted 30-16 in favor of putting the question on the statewide primary ballot—the minimum number of yes votes needed to meet the three-fifths majority for such amendments. The House approved the measure Monday with a few votes to spare.

The proposal also would bar the state from sanctioning civil unions.

Thirty states have a gay marriage ban in their constitutions.

Sen. Jim Forrester (R., Gaston), who had filed amendment bills for several years without success, finally won Tuesday after an hour of intense debate on the Senate floor. The amendment, which had been blocked for years by Democrats, won a hearing after Republicans took control of the General Assembly for the first time since 1870. Republicans voted heavily for the measure.

Unlike the House, where 10 Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the amendment, the Senate vote was utterly along party lines. Four senators—Republican Fletcher Hartsell of Cabarrus County and Democrats Eric Mansfield of Cumberland County, Michael Walters of Robeson County and Stan White of Dare County—had excused absences and didn't vote.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "North Carolina Voters to Decide on Same-Sex Marriage" by Kim Severson, New York Times 9/13/11

The Senate, in a 30-16 vote, agreed to let voters decide during the May primaries whether the state Constitution should ban same-sex marriage. The House approved the measure the day before, 75 to 42.

It is already illegal for people of the same sex to marry in North Carolina. If the amendment passes, it will serve to reinforce that ban and make it more difficult for future legislatures to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.

It could also call into question domestic partnership benefits offered by public institutions and the application of domestic violence laws, said Holning Lau, an associate professor of law at the University of North Carolina. . . .

The issue brought out people to rally on both sides. The Rev. Patrick Wooden of the Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh calls homosexuality a “deathstyle” and has long fought against those who equate the battle for gay rights with other civil rights struggles.

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From "North Carolina Puts Gay Marriage Ban On May 2012 Ballot" by Tyler Kingkade, Huffington Post 9/13/11

Republican leaders in the state legislature elected not to allow any public comment, which enabled them to fast-track the legislation to a vote and passage only 24 hours after it was first introduced. The state House of Representatives passed the same bill on Monday.

Constitutional amendments do not require action by the governor, which means Gov. Bev Perdue (D) has no veto power, and the amendment will now go before voters in the 2012 primary election.

Maxine Eichner, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and some of her colleagues prepared a report on the proposed amendment in June that outlined potential problems. Even with the revisions made in the last week, Eichner said in an email, the amendment could still interfere with existing child custody and visitation rights and invalidate trusts, wills and end-of-life directives in favor of an unmarried partner, no matter the genders of the unmarried pair.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "N.C. citizens (finally) to get vote on marriage" by Michael Foust, Associate Editor, Baptist Press 9/13/11

All four states that border North Carolina passed constitutional marriage amendments in 2004 or 2006 . . .

GOP leaders in North Carolina tried to de-politicize the issue by moving the vote from November 2012 to the 2012 primary, taking away the argument that the amendment's sole purpose was to bring out conservative voters during a presidential election.

A majority of states, 29, define marriage as between a man and a woman in their state constitutions. The amendments prevent state courts from redefining marriage to include gay couples, as has happened in Connecticut, Iowa and Massachusetts.

The heart of the North Carolina amendment reads: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.