Although North Carolinians support a constitutional amendment on marriage, the legislative leadership will not allow a vote on the measure.
By Tami Fitzgerald
Christian Action League
Voters in Maine last week answered the question of how the majority of people define marriage—it’s between a man and a woman. By a margin of 53-47 percent, Maine voters approved a ballot measure that repeals a law allowing same-sex marriage. At issue was a law passed by the Maine Legislature and signed last spring by Democratic Governor John Baldacci, which would have legalized same-sex marriage. The law was put on hold after conservatives launched a petition drive to repeal it in a referendum.
Gay marriage has now lost in every state — 31 in all — in which it has been put to a popular vote. This was a bigger win than last year’s constitutional amendment ballot initiative in California (Proposition 8), which won by 52 percent of the electorate. Unfortunately, although voters in North Carolina support a constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman by 76%, they have never been given the opportunity to vote on marriage, because legislative leaders refuse to put the measure on the ballot.
Voters in 30 states have adopted constitutional amendments protecting marriage as the union between a man and a woman, while Maine voters repealed their gay marriage statute. Gay-rights activists had hoped to stop this trend toward protecting tradition marriage by winning in Maine, which is known for its moderate, independent-minded electorate.
The No on 1 side had not only a fundraising advantage but an edge in volunteers. They outspent supporters of traditional marriage by nearly 2-1, spending $4 million to their $2.5 million. Their grassroots network, organized over 4 years, claimed to have 8,000 volunteers in a state with a population of only 1.3 million. They had the support of the governor, legislative leaders and newspaper editorial boards. They ran the campaign they wish they had run in California, and they still lost.
Maine’s ballot initiative repealing gay marriage passed despite a higher-than-expected turnout, which many had presumed would hurt the Yes on 1 side. Conventional wisdom also held that two anti-tax issues on the ballot would help the measure by bringing out conservative voters. Yet both anti-tax measures failed by margins of 74-25 and 60-40 percent. A pro-medical marijuana initiative that likely brought out liberal voters won approval by 59-41 percent. Despite the conclusion that these were the results of higher liberal voter turnout, Maine voters rejected same-sex marriage.
“If they can’t win in Maine, they don’t have a majority anywhere,” said Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which donated more than $1.8 million to the campaign. Brian Brown, Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage which was also instrumental in passing California’s marriage amendment last year added:
“Same-sex marriage activists saw Maine as their best chance to win a direct marriage vote… Instead, for the first time in history, the voters of a state have overturned the legislative enactment of same-sex marriage. The voters in a deep New England state have now joined 30 other states in directly affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If we can win in Maine, we can win anywhere.”
Five states remain that have legalized gay marriage — Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and New Hampshire (where it will become legal next year) — but all did so through legislation or court rulings, not by popular vote. Had Maine’s law been upheld, the result would probably have energized efforts to get another vote on gay marriage in California, and given a boost to gay-marriage bills in New York and New Jersey.
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine is threatening to pass a gay marriage bill during the lame-duck legislative session before conservative Chris Christie takes over as Governor in January. Christie has promised to veto any such legislation. New Jersey has already legalized domestic partnerships and civil unions, but activists want to legalize same-sex marriage. Likewise, New York Governor David Patterson has called for a vote on a same-sex marriage bill during a special session of the Legislature that convened on Tuesday this week to resolve New York’s budget deficit. The Democrat-led Assembly passed the measure in the spring, but the Governor has been trying to squeeze a majority in the Senate. A vote on the measure has been delayed while supporters scramble to get the votes needed to pass it.
Homosexual groups did pick up a narrow win in Washington State where voters approved expanding the state’s same-sex domestic partnerships law. Their goal now is to legalize “gay marriage” in Washington.
As happened in California after passage of Proposition 8, threats, intimidation, and harassment from gay activists have followed the defeat of gay marriage in Maine.
Even before the vote, a public school counselor was threatened with losing his job. The former director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, received a very clear death threat on his office phone voicemail after the vote. Homosexual activists have also protested in front of Catholic Churches that supported the ballot initiative in an effort to intimidate parisshioners and church leaders whom they’ve termed as “haters” for supporting traditional marriage. Finally, many of the activists are calling for the IRS to investigate the tax-exempt status of organizations and churches that supported traditional marriage. Of course, IRS rules allow the freedom of speech for tax-exempt organizations to advocate for or against issues like same-sex marriage.
Proponents of marriage in North Carolina, including the Christian Action League, have supported bills that have been introduced in the General Assembly for the past 6 years that would allow voters in North Carolina to protect marriage in the North Carolina Constitution as between a man and a woman. Despite support from a majority of legislators and from 76% of North Carolina voters, President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight and Speaker Joe Hackney have refused to allow a discussion or a vote on these bills. Voters in North Carolina are being ignored. If traditional marriage can win in Maine, it can win in North Carolina!