As North Carolina prepares to vote on a controversial amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as between a man and a woman, both sides are making their final push, including enlisting high-profile backers – such as former President Bill Clinton and evangelist Billy Graham – to their cause.
The amendment, also known as Amendment One, would define marriage as between a man and a woman, and make it the only domestic legal union that would be valid in the state. Opponents say the measure is unnecessary since the state already has a statute in place banning gay marriage, and it could jeopardize domestic violence protections for women and end health insurance for children of gay couples. But backers say those fears are overblown.
Voters head to the polls on Tuesday, but more than 500,000 people already have participated through early voting or by absentee ballot, according to a report by Democracy North Carolina (http://www.democracy-nc.org/about/mission.html).
Starting Monday, hundreds of thousands of North Carolina homes will hear an audio recording of Clinton encouraging people to vote against the amendment. In it, he raises the health care and domestic violence concerns, and also says it could hinder efforts to lure new business to the state.
“So the real effect of the law is not to keep the traditional definition of marriage, you’ve already done that,” Clinton says in the recording. “The real effect of the law will be to hurt families and drive away jobs. North Carolina can do better.”
“Somebody like Bill Clinton doesn’t just come out on anything and speak against it,” Jeremy Kennedy, campaign manager of Protect All NC Families, which is against the amendment, told msnbc.com on Monday. “His office looked at this for a very long time before they decided they even wanted to get involved.”
President Barack Obama’s campaign office in North Carolina has released a statement saying he opposes the amendment, too, Kennedy said.
On the pro-amendment side, Billy Graham and former Republican presidential candidate and House Speaker Newt Gingrich have given their support.
“At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage,” Graham said in a full-page ad that was to run in 14 North Carolina newspapers. “The Bible is clear — God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote for the marriage amendment on Tuesday, May 8. God bless you as you vote.”
If the North Carolina amendment passes, it would join 30 others states that have passed similar amendments.
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