North Carolina's Republican-dominated legislature Monday moved one step closer to constitutionally banning same-sex marriage when the House passed the proposed amendment by a vote 75-42, according to the Charlotte Observer.
The proposal now moves onto the Senate, where the two bodies have now agreed on the language. The proposal for voters will now read as follows:
Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.
Therefore, the amendment, if passed by the voters, would also stop the enactment of civil unions.
The second sentence of the amendment was added out of concern that the proposal will prohibit businesses from providing benefits to same-sex couples. However, gay couples who receive joint benefits through local governments may see that end.
North Carolina law already defines marriage as between one man and one woman. However, conservative lawmakers were concerned that the courts could eventually rule the law unconstitutional. Furthermore, lawmakers, such as House Majority Leader Paul Stam were worried that married couples from states such as New York could move down to North Carolina with benefits intact.
They're going to bring with them their same-sex marriages and they're going to want to get divorced and have child custody issues... and we're not equipped to handle them, Stam said on the House floor, according to the Huffington Post.
The vote was initially scheduled for November 2012, in hopes that it would spur conservative voters to come to the polls. North Carolina was a battleground state in 2008, with President Obama narrowly squeaking out a victory. With both the President and Gov. Bev Purdue facing tough re-election campaigns, conservatives hoped this would help knock them out of office.
However, to win over skeptical Democrats, residents will vote on the amendment in May 2012, pending the proposal is adopted by the Senate.