Voters in North Carolina on Tuesday passed a constitutional amendment [Amendment 1, PDF] to ban same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder]. The amendment reads that "marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State." Sixty-one percent of voters approved [CNN report] the restricted definition of marriage. The amendment also bars any type of same-sex domestic union, including domestic partnerships and civil unions. Opponents of the ban were quick to react. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force [advocacy website] released a statement [text] saying:
North Carolina has wandered into treacherous terrain with [the amendment]. ... Many North Carolinians, including seniors, single women and children, could be placed in peril because the shrinking definition of family excludes them. Some might even be denied life-saving services like domestic violence protections. This is a brutal step backward for relationship recognition in North Carolina.Although North Carolina already had a statutory definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, it was the only southern state that did not have a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. North Carolina is now the thirty-first state to pass such a ban on same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage remains a controversial issue throughout the US. The North Carolina Legislature [official website] in September approved [JURIST report] putting the constitutional amendment on a statewide ballot. Earlier that month 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 2011, the Minnesota Legislature approved [JURIST report] adding a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the November 2012 ballot. In April 2011, 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 2011 approved a bill that would void in Wyoming any same-sex marriages and civil unions [JURIST reports] performed in other jurisdictions.