North Carolina voters have passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, CNN projects, putting a ban that already existed in state law into the state’s charter.
With more than 1.5 million votes counted from Tuesday’s referendum, supporters of the ban led opponents by a margin of 61% to 39%, according to figures from the State Board of Elections. Its backers prepared to celebrate by serving wedding cake to their supporters in a Raleigh ballroom.
The amendment would alter North Carolina’s constitution to say that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” Supporters argued that the amendment was needed to stop those trying to redefine marriage and ward off possible future actions of “activist judges.”
Opponents called the measure redundant and warned it could result in jeopardizing domestic violence protections for women and affect couples’ health benefits.
The amendment was trailing in Charlotte, in the Triangle counties around Raleigh and Chapel Hill, as well as the Winston-Salem-Greensboro area, according to figures from the State Board of Elections. But it was winning by wide margins in rural counties and in the suburbs of Charlotte — the home of famous evangelist Billy Graham, who endorsed the ballot measure last week.
Graham’s endorsement was a rare move for a preacher who has typically avoided political fights. He took out full-page ads in 14 North Carolina newspapers touting his support for the measure, saying “the Bible is clear — God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Tami Fitzgerald, the head of Vote for Marriage NC, said she had been confident that “the people of North Carolina would rise up and vote to keep the opposition from redefining traditional marriage.
“We are not anti-gay, we are pro-marriage,” she said. “And the point — the whole point — is simply that you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s design for marriage based on the demands of a group of adults.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for one of the groups opposing the amendment told CNN, “The numbers are not looking the way we hope they would look.”
“We have been down in the polls, and this certainly is not coming as a surprise,” said Paul Guequierre, of the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families. “But it is certainly not what we had hoped for.”
Courtesy Of CNN.COM