As predicted, North Carolina voters ushered in a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in Tuesday’s primary election, joining a flood of states to pass constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage in recent years. Missouri was the first in 2004. This week, North Carolina became the 35th state to do so.
Statewide, the ban was passed by a 61-39 percent margin. The margin was slightly higher in Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain, with 70-30 percent margin.
Turnout was higher than normal for a primary election, driven in large part by Amendment One. Many voters showed up uninterested in voting for anything but that. In primaries, voters have to pick either a Democratic or Republican ballot when voting. Precinct workers reported many voters coming into the polls, when asked which party ballot they wanted to cast, simply answered “whichever ballot has marriage amendment on it.”
Religious beliefs clearly played a major role in those who voted for the ban on same-sex marriage.
Carlene James of Canton said her pastor at Center Pigeon Baptist Church has preached about it for the past two Sundays. And like so many churches all over the state, the signboard out front has been dedicated to the message “vote for the marriage amendment.”
“I think marriage is for one man and one woman, not two men or two women,” James said as she was leaving the polls Tuesday.
As the election results show, the idea of gay marriage is a concept that society as a whole has not accepted.
“I think that is the way it should be,” Richard Meyer, 28, of Sylva, said of his vote in favor of the ban.
Denise Gibson of Lake Junaluska fears same-sex marriage goes against God.
“I feel like history tends to repeat itself. In the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of gay marriage and I am worried we are heading that way,” Gibson said after voting in Waynesville Tuesday.
But, Francine Popular of Waynesville, a Roman Catholic, said she believe God loves everyone. Religion aside, she questioned the role of government in dictating people’s personal relationships.
“People say we don’t want the government in our lives, so why do we want the government to control people’s marriages — who they love and who they don’t?” Popular asked.
The live-and-let-live viewpoint was shared by many who voted against the amendment.
“If two people love each other and they want to start a family, who am I to stand in their way?” Korey Ramsey, 41, said on his way out of the polls in Sylva Tuesday.
Some who voted against the constitutional amendment out of fear it would have implications beyond gay couples and sends the wrong message about the state.
“It is really black and white, but we don’t live in a black and white world,” said Lauren Bishop of Waynesville on her way out of the polls Tuesday. “I think it would be more harmful than helpful, especially bringing businesses into the area.”
Reporter Caitlin Bowling contributed to this story.