North Carolina voters on Tuesday appeared to easily pass Amendment One, an amendment to the state constitution that not only bans gay marriage but also outlaws civil unions and domestic partnerships.
With 23 of 100 counties reporting results, the Associated Press said 61% of voters had supported the measure and 39% had voted against it.
The amendment, called the Defense of Marriage Act by its Republican sponsors, was fiercely debated in the weeks leading up to the election -- and is now expected to be fiercely fought in the courts.
Much of its impact remains to be seen, but it would appear to threaten the domestic partnership health benefits of government workers, some family law experts say. It also could strip unmarried couples – both gay and straight – of their rights to make financial or emergency medical decisions for an incapacitated partner.
President Obama and former President Clinton had spoken out against the measure; the Rev. Billy Graham had publicly supported it.
With passage of the amendment, North Carolina becomes the 29th state to pass an amendment banning gay marriage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Ten other states have statutes defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
Amendment One states: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”
Only Idaho, Michigan and South Carolina have defined marriage as strictly.