When for is against

First Posted: 4/28/2012

North Carolinians are getting the opportunity to decide whether or not the North Carolina Constitution should be amended to specifically define marriage as being a union between a single man and a single woman, but voters might want to carefully mark their ballot. A vote for Amendment One is a vote against same-sex marriage, while a vote against Amendment One is something else.

Gay marriage is already banned in North Carolina by state law, but supporters — and they are getting busy — say the amendment is needed as protection against judges going rogue and interpreting law not as it is intended, but to fit their agenda. They say that allowing same-sex marriage threatens the sanctity of the institution. They might want to ban divorce as well, since that is how half of all marriages ends.

Opponents of Amendment One say the current law accomplishes the task of keeping men from marrying men, and women from wedding women. They warn about unintended consequences of Amendment One — and their arguments gained weight last week when Attorney General Roy Cooper announced publicly that he would oppose Amendment One.

Cooper, who doesn’t face any significant competition in winning re-election, didn’t put detail to his decision, leaving Amendment One opponents the opportunity to speak for him. They say the state’s No. 1 law enforcement officer worries about children losing health insurance, that domestic-violence and child-custody laws could lose some of their bite, and the court system could become even more constipated because of legal challenges claiming discrimination.

But Amendment Once supporters counter that critics, understanding that same-sex marriage is a non-starter in North Carolina in the year 2012, are simply trying to shift the conservation.

Same-sex marriage is certainly a non-starter in Robeson County, where turnout for the primary — both during early voting and on May 8 — will be inflated after church sermons about Amendment One.

Polls show that support across the state for Amendment One is dwindling, down to 54 percent according to Public Policy Polling from last week. But the poll shows opposition at just 40 percent, so our bet is that North Carolina loses its distinction as being the only state in the Southeast without a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

That assumes that North Carolinians mark their ballot as they intend.