Voters across North Carolina will get to decide next May whether a ban on same-sex marriage needs to be written into the state constitution, after the state Senate voted Tuesday to put the issue on the ballot.
The state House voted 75-42 in favor of the measure on Monday. The bill needed three-fifths of the Senate to vote for it to pass it, and the bill received 30 votes in favor of it.
Despite an error in Tuesday’s issue of the Daily Journal stating Purcell was for the bill, he is against it.
“I voted against the bill and spoke against it on the Senate floor,” said Purcell, D-Laurinburg.
Purcell explained that two sponsors of the bill stated it would help preserve traditional marriage, but opposing voices said the divorce rates are just as high in states that allow same-sex marriage.
“I said if they were really serious about preserving traditional marriage the way (is to eliminate) real threats like domestic violence and drug abuse,” the senator said.
Purcell said the purpose of the constitution is to protect the rights of people, and that the amendment would limit the rights of people. He also expressed irritation that issues like joblessness were not addressed during the special meeting that was held to debate the same-sex marriage ban.
Gov. Bev Perdue expressed disappointment Tuesday that the legislature is spending time on such an emotionally charged and divisive issue. Purcell said Perdue will not be able to veto this bill.
State Rep. Ken Goodman said, “We should be here working for jobs instead of social issues. That being said, I do believe a marriage is between a man and a woman. I thought the people ought to have a right to decide. I heard a lot from the people in my district. I voted for the amendment — 10 democrats voted for it. This amendment is already in law, so I saw it as unnecessary. If the people vote against it, it won’t affect our state at all. If it’s in the constitution, it’s tougher to undo.”
Goodman, D-Rockingham, said that when he came to Raleigh his priorities were jobs, the economy and supporting public education.
Supporters of the ban and those against it rallied in Raleigh as the lawmakers met inside.
Legislators on both sides of the debate mentioned the weight of history and the consideration of future generations in their comments. Many cited relationships with children or grandchildren as the reason for their stance.
State Rep. Marcus Brandon, R-Guilford, the only openly gay state lawmaker, told his fellow lawmakers that people yelled “abomination” at him as he walked through the capitol building that afternoon, and said he was told he was “going to hell.”
State Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, a black lawmaker, took the floor and shared that the U.S. constitution “still says I am three-fifths of a person.” Michaux said on the floor that he was attempting to highlight how hard it would be to remove the discriminatory language in the future.
State law already bans same-sex marriage, and opponents of a constitutional amendment contend that it is unnecessary.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.