State lawmakers in North Carolina Monday moved ahead on a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and woman, the Associated Press Reports.
A divided committee passed the amendment by voice vote in committee, CNN reports, and the proposal should receive a vote later today in the full house. Sixty percent of House members must approve the proposal before it moves to the Senate.
The proposal called for a vote in May 2012, which helped to appeal to some undecided lawmakers. Other versions of the proposed amendment called for the issue to be placed on the ballot in November 2012 to coincide with the presidential election.
In 2004, similar measures were placed on the ballot in numerous states, helping to energize conservative voters. Many political analysts believe the ballot measure in Ohio that year propelled family-values voters to also come out to support then President George W. Bush, leading him to narrowly win the state, and the election, against Sen. John Kerry.
Given that North Carolina was a battleground state in the 2008 election, many Democrats say the amendment was proposed to help Obama's opponent win the North Carolina electoral votes in the 2012 race. House Speaker Thom Tillis told the Associated Press that the date change was made to stem that criticism.
The states that allow same-sex marriage are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire and Vermont. The District of Columbia also allows same-sex marriage. Furthermore, several states allow for civil unions, or recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.
The question is: are we going to let the people decide, or judicial decisions based on the Supreme Court decisions of a half-dozen other states? Republican House Majority Leader Paul Stam said as floor debate began.
Stam's comments home in on a popular theme for conservatives in passing marriage amendments-the will of the people should be recognized and not be interfered with by the judiciary.
Democrats in the chamber complained that the legislature was trying to rush the process, and said the act was a way to discriminate against a specific group of citizens.
What happens with this amendment is once again we seek to marginalize a group of individuals who only want equality and the same basic rights afforded to every citizen of this state, said Democratic Rep. Susan Fisher on the House floor.