North Carolina’s Amendment One Passes, Outlawing Already-Illegal Gay Marriage

Last night, North Carolina’s Amendment One, was passed by 61% by the state’s voters. Although same-sex marriage was already outlawed in North Carolina, the state constitutional amendment outlaws marriage once again, as well as revoking legal recognition of civil unions and possibly domestic partnerships. The specific language in the bill refers to “domestic legal unions,” which isn’t a term that’s been used previously in North Carolina, and the legal ramifications of which aren’t yet clear. 

North Carolina had been the only Southern state without a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and roughly 39% of voters tried to keep it that way, but despite the fact that a state statute already made same-sex marriage illegal, North Carolina’s constitution will now reflect the ideal of marriage as between one man and one woman as well. The last time North Carolina amended its constitution to change marriage laws was in 1875, when it banned interracial marriage. Last night, an impromptu gathering of disappointed North Carolinans formed at the Vance Monument to mourn Amendment 1’s passage. At the end of the night, Amendment 1 passed with a 22-point margin.

While the passage of Amendment 1 is undeniably disheartening, and it won’t cease to be shocking that anyone feels the need to create a voter referendum and constitutional amendment just to express displeasure about something that’s already illegal, it’s worth noting that 40% of voting North Carolinans opposed this measure, and many of those want to continue working to make North Carolina a safer, more accepting place. Barry Yeoman of The Independent Weekly says “I have never seen a community mount such a forceful, unified, creative response to a collective threat. I have never had so many neighbors tell me, “Your battle is mine too.” Especially considering Obama’s same-sex marriage support announcement, it’s possible that this vote could prove a rallying point for North Carolina and the southern queer community.

The North Carolina Democratic Party has announced that they’ll continue fighting for equal rights in their state. In the meantime, the state’s citizens (and the rest of us) may do well to remember the Faulkner passage that Council President Carol Bellamy read before a 1981 vote by the New York City Council to decide whether to outlaw discrimination against lesbians and gay men:

 Some things you must always be unable to bear… Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have got. Not for kudos and not for cash; your picture in the paper nor money in the bank either. Just refuse to bear them.

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

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20 Comments

  1. Lol all the straight people just voted against their own rights, since this potentially won’t allow unmarried straight couples to be protected against domestic violence since it would involve the state recognizing their relationship.

    I read that the Amendment had the highest support among people who didn’t understand the ramifications of it.

  2. I can’t even form words. I’m from Charlotte, and the really annoying thing is, in my county, it DIDN’T pass–the majority ruled against it! It just goes to show you that people really didn’t do their research before voting. Hopefully, once people’s health care and pensions are being affected, maybe they’ll rally with the gay community and get this horrid thing overturned.

  3. I fell asleep early last night and woke up to see that this had passed. As a Michigander, I can only guess how this feels for the queer community in NC. Here, domestic partnerships, civil unions, and marriage are all constitutionally banned and we have very few rights, but this NC law feels like a lot bigger travesty. As Kelly said, this affects more than just the LGBT community. The law is vaguely worded and I’ve heard it can be applied to unmarried hetero couples as well.

    Things like this just break my heart.

  4. Hey NC, I was just outside and saw a black boy and a hispanic girl walking down the street holding hands. Remember when that was also illegal in your constitution…until 1971?

    (Note: This is not just a made-up anecdote to illustrate other horribly backwards things that have been enshrined in NC’s constitution. It literally just happened while I was outside smoking. I almost hugged both of them.)

    • Nah, the people who vote for these awful things only care about interracial relationships when it’s a white girl and any gender of any racial minority.

  5. I’m from NC. Grew up in a tiny, horrid town near the coast, spent the last four years in Durham (which I’m proud to say voted overwhelmingly against). As awful as this is, it’s heartening to see that the counties where there are colleges voted at least 50% against.

    If anyone’s interested in the county-by-county breakdown, it’s here (hopefully the link works):
    http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/NC/36596/80787/en/md.html?cid=425000010

    It was more than anything a case of urban(against) versus rural(for).

  6. I don’t think these people have really thought this same sex marriage through… opposed to it or not, remove the gender qualification and you have a larger pool of people available to and undertaking in marriages. This, of corse, sees a direct increase in the opportunity for free alcohol and cake. Are you trying to tell me there are people in this world who oppose free alcohol and cake?! SICK FREAKS!!

  7. We fought so hard, you guys. SO HARD. I personally registered over 100 voters, talked to countless people in my social circle about why it was important to vote aginst amendment one, and 61% of my neighbors still believe I shouldn’t get married. And they were even willing to jeopardize the rights of unmarried straight couples, just to make equal marriage more illegal than it already is.

    I’ve held it together all day because I’m a student and trying to take finals right now, but I’m letting it out right now: inside I am heartbroken.

  8. I really wonder how this would have turned out if it was on the ballot in November with the Presidential election and not during primary season. Voter turnout was like 39%, if it was during the general election the turnout would have been a lot of higher and maybe that would have been enough to change things.

  9. Like this. On thing though, you misquoted Barry Yeoman’s article.

    When Yeoman is talking about Council President Carol Bellamy, he mentions her in the context of a 1981 vote in NEW YORK CITY, not in the context of Amendment 1 as you suggest.

  10. Yeah voter turnout was amongst the highest for this Republican primary, but still only 40% of the North Carolina population voted. Even people that I spoke to at the polls didn’t even know what Amendment One was. If you look at a map, the counties were Amendment One failed are all counties with large universities. Coincidence?

    The most upsetting thing about this whole Amendment is that the supporting side blatantly used religion to justify their arguments. What happened to separation of Church and State?? The religious people who defended this Amendment pick certain parts of the bible that they want to believe in and there’s no point in arguing with them because they will spout off something like “oh well i only believe in pages 49-230 of the bible, so your argument is invalid”

    I don’t understand the mindset of these people. They are legitimately CRAZY!!!!

  11. Also, not sure you all saw this church sign that was also a polling location on Tuesday. The sign read “A true marriage is male and female and God”.

    Not only does that absolutely go against Amendment One (a threeway with GOD??!??!!) BUT I am proud to say that I was at that poll on Tuesday handing out Against Amendment One literature and despite they’re sign, the majority of voters at that location voted AGAINST!

    i guess we can only live in small victories like that for now.

    Here’s the article:
    http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20120508/ARTICLES/120509659

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