Last week, both the North Carolina House and the Senate approved a state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as one man and one woman. North Carolina voters will have the opportunity to approve the amendment in 2012.
The pro-marriage votes in the North Carolina legislature continue a nationwide trend to protect marriage as one man and one woman—especially through the use of democratic measures such as constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives.
According to Jordan Lorence, a senior attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund,
North Carolina voters will join Minnesota voters in 2012 in deciding whether to add marriage definition amendments to their respective state constitutions. The Minnesota Legislature earlier this year approved a similar proposed amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage only as one man and one woman. Voters in the North Star State will decide whether to add it to the state constitution in November 2012…. The Indiana Legislature also approved a marriage amendment, but it must pass the Legislature again after the 2012 election before it goes to the people for a popular vote.
Indeed, “the trend in politics is to shore up protections for marriage.” As I explained earlier this year in an interview with Kathryn Lopez of NRO:
- Public officials repeatedly tried to redefine marriage in California, but voters used a ballot measure to define marriage as one man and one woman in the state constitution;
- Maine voters used a people’s veto to reverse same-sex-marriage legislation passed by their state representatives;
- Iowa voters awarded early retirement to three of the state-supreme-court justices who imposed same-sex marriage on that state;
- Nearly 30 states have protected marriage in their state constitutions;
- Nearly 40 states have protected marriage in their statutes; and
- A recent nationwide poll by Public Opinion Strategies finds that 62 percent of “middle America” (people without extreme views on either side of the issue) believes marriage should be defined only as the union of one man and one woman.
Even in states with less favorable outcomes, the politics can show that, contrary to the familiar tune, same-sex marriage is far from inevitable. For example, New York is one of the most liberal states in the country, but the same-sex marriage law there came down to a few swing votes in an extraordinary legislative situation, despite an incredible investment of financial and political resources to redefine marriage.
Some people might argue that states like North Carolina do not need a constitutional amendment if they already protect marriage through defense of marriage statutes. But voters know that activist judges elsewhere have overturned statutory protections for marriage.
State constitutional amendments protect marriage from judicial activism in state courts; reinforce the understanding that marriage as one man and one woman is deeply rooted in American values, history, and traditions; and demonstrate a strong public awareness that marriage as one man and one woman should be affirmatively protected in law.
In the words of North Carolina Senator Dan Soucek, a sponsor of the marriage amendment in that state, marriage is a “time-tested building block of society.” With last week’s vote in the state senate, the people of North Carolina will have the opportunity to continue the trend of deep-rooted democratic support for one of society’s most important institutions.