The North Carolina Legislature [official website] on Tuesday approved putting a constitutional amendment [SB 514, PDF] to ban same-sex marriage on a statewide ballot to be voted on in May. The Republican-controlled Senate [official website] voted 30-16 to place the proposed amendment on the ballot. The Senate voted on the measure after the House [official website] on Monday voted 75-42 to approve the proposed amendment after over three hours of debate. Voters will decide in May whether the proposed amendment will be added to the state's constitution. Although North Carolina has a statutory definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, it is the only southern state that does not have a ban on same-sex marriage. The proposed amendment would add to the constitution:
Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party f om entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.There are 30 states [AP report] that currently have similar same-sex marriage bans as part of their state constitutions.
Same-sex marriage remains a controversial issue throughout the US. Earlier this week the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Arizona House Bill 2013, a law rescinding health benefits for same-sex couples in the public sector, is in violation of the equal protection clause of the US Constitution. In May, the Minnesota Legislature approved [JURIST report] adding a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage to the November 2012 ballot. In April, the Indiana Senate overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage or any "substantially similar" status, and the Wyoming Senate in February approved a bill that would void in Wyoming any same-sex marriages and civil unions [JURIST reports] performed in other jurisdictions.