NC Marriage Amendment passes by wide margin

by Brian Clarey

The people of North Carolina spoke with two voices in last night’s primary. But at the polls, the pro-marriage amendment forces had significantly more volume.

What has come to be known as Amendment 1, the movement to make marriage between one man and one woman as the only recognized domestic legal union in the state, carried by a margin of more than 20 percent last night. The law is now enshrined in our constitution under Article XIV, Section 6 under “Miscellaneous.”

Statewide, more than 30 percent of registered voters came out to vote in this primary, with Guilford and Forsyth counties each reaching more than 34 percent.

Early voting saw Triad counties at odds on the amendment. Of the 16,000 early votes in Forsyth County, 52 percent voted against the amendment. Guilford County’s 24,300 or so early votes were split nearly down the middle, with anti-amendment votes ahead by about 400.

Statewide, the amendment was favored in early voting 53 percent to 47 percent.

It was the intention of Amendment 1 to divide the population — that’s according to the internal literature of its proponents.

And that’s exactly what it did. On Election Day, the Constitutional Amendment referendum was the hottest item on the ballot.

“The interest seems to be revolving around the constitutional amendment questions,” said Forsyth County Elections Director Rob Coffmann. “What’s unusual is a lot of voters are asking for the nonpartisan ballot, which just has district court judge races. They can ask for democratic or republican ballots, but for some reason they’re just asking for nonpartisan ballots. I think they want something quick.”

Forsyth County eventually passed the initiative by 5 percentage points. Guilford County voted for it by the slimmest of margins — of almost 117,000 votes, just 72 separated the nays from the yeas.

Statewide, just seven of 100 counties voted against the amendment, most of which contain our largest cities: Buncombe County in the mountains, where Asheville is located; the border county of Watauga; Durham County; Wake County, which contains Raleigh; its neighboring counties of Orange and Chatham; and Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County.

Tuesday night at District 5 Congressional candidate Elizabeth Motsinger’s viewing party at Encore American Bistro in Winston-Salem, resident and anti-amendment activist Laura Salmons made the case for the opposition.

“I’m bothered that the North Carolina Constitution is going to have discrimination as part of its constitution,” she said. “What something like this does is it takes a group of people and puts them on the outside. If we believe marriage is a fundamental institution and good for our society, it’s wrong to exclude anyone from it.”

But the attitudes of North Carolina’s more rural counties prevailed.

Dick Linville, of Kernersville, summed up the proamendment stance on Monday at a rally outside Winston- Salem City Hall.

“I believe the word of the Bible…,” he said. “We don’t hate the [gay] people, but we do hate the act. The sodomy is an abomination….”