Much of today's UNC Law School debate on the Marriage Amendment was a repeat of the floor arguments made last week by House Majority Leader Skip Stam, R-Wake, and House Minority Whip Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland.
But there was one interesting nugget of information from Stam on why the amendment will be on the ballot in the May primary election, rather than in the November general.
"Why it’s in May instead of November is at the insistence of Governor Bev Perdue, who told a dozen Democrats they could vote for it if it was in May, but not November," Stam said in response to an audience question. Protest greets lawmakers at gay marriage amendment debate
When asked whether the governor had been involved in the date change, Perdue's press secretary Chris Mackey sent the following statement:
“...The Governor didn’t want the General Assembly to waste its time considering this unnecessary amendment at all. Moving the amendment to the May ballot removed ONE of the Governor’s objections, which was that the Republicans were using the constitutional amendment process to tilt the 2012 general election. The Governor never encouraged legislators to put the amendment on ANY ballot.”
Perdue's involvement in the date change had been widely rumored. Moving the amendment from November to May works out well for Democrats, who won't have to worry about high turnout among "values voters" in the general election.
Much to the chagrin of amendment opponents, it's also likely to help the amendment pass. Stam said today more Democrats vote in primaries than Republicans. That's usually true of the general election, too, simply by virtue of the fact North Carolina has a whole lot more registered Democratic voters than Republicans.
However, this May, Republican voters will choose their presidential and gubernatorial candidates, so their turnout is likely to be pretty robust. Democrats, however, probably won't have any high-profile primary races to draw them to the polls.
Alex Miller of Equality NC said gay and lesbian North Carolinians had "absolutely been thrown under the bus" by Democrats and Republicans alike. ""Our primary objective after defeating the amendment on the primary ballot will be to work toward the electoral defeat of every legislator who supported this harmful, discriminatory amendment, regardless of the party they purport to represent."