If you thought opposing gay marriage was as red as red meat could be in the South, you'd be right -- if this was 2010, or if this was any other state in the South besides North Carolina. But judging how a growing number of folks in the political sphere seem to be shrinking from the effort to ban gay marriage, some see this issue -- in 2012 in North Carolina -- the way meat lovers see pink slime.
Republicans in the legislature pushed to have on the ballot a measure to amend the N.C. Constitution in order to define gay marriage as unconstitutional. Now more and more conservatives are not only distancing themselves from the measure, they are coming out against the amendment. Business leaders also have voiced opposition to the amendment. Add to the list of eclectic opponents a group of religious leaders who held a get-out-the-early-vote rally Sunday during which they asked North Carolina residents to vote "against" the constitutional amendment.
In a little more than two weeks, North Carolina will hold primary elections. Early voting in these contests already has begun. This proposed amendment to the N.C. Constitution is one of the things that voters will decide May 8, and already it has gained national attention.
Here's is what every North Carolina resident who votes in the primaries will have the opportunity to decide as it will appear on the ballot:
Constitutional amendment to
provide that marriage between
one man and one woman is the
only domestic legal union that
shall be valid or recognized in this
A vote "for" will change the constitution. A vote "against" means you don't want to change the constitution. Just to clarify, a vote "against" does not make gay marriage legal in North Carolina.
It's been fascinating to watch as supporters and opponents have lined up to take a stance on the issue. Perhaps even more telling is finding a candidate running in North Carolina who hasn't taken a position.
On Sunday, Jay Bakker, the son of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, led a rally in Durham to encourage voters to cast ballots against the gay marriage ban. He was joined by several religious leaders.
Other notables who have voiced their opposition to changing the constitution are as follows:
- Conservative columnist John Hood
- Former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot, a Republican
- Tea Party-endorsed U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-2nd District
- Elizabeth Marquardt and David Blankenhorn, proponents of traditional marriage who work at the Institute for American Values
- Catherine Bessant, global technology and operations executive at Bank of America, who said the initiative would make it harder for companies to attract talent to the state
- Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, who likened the amendment to the old Jim Crow laws of the South
- Democratic President Barack Obama
Some proponents of amending the constitution include:
- Pat McCrory, who is running for governor as a Republican
- N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, who has predicted the amendment would pass and then would be repealed within 20 years
- Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham and a Christian speaker from Raleigh
- Mary Frances Forrester, wife of the late N.C. Sen. Jim Forrester who pushed for a statewide referendum on the issue for years before he died
- Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
- The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte
The presumptive GOP nominee for president, Mitt Romney, was in North Carolina last week, but he did not address the issue.