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WRAL News poll: Marriage amendment poised for passage

Posted May 1, 2012

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— A proposed amendment to the North Carolina constitution to define marriage in the state appears likely to pass, according to a new WRAL News poll.

SurveyUSA polled 1,127 likely voters between last Thursday and Monday and found that sizable numbers still favor some type of legal recognition for same-sex couples.

The amendment calls for the state to not recognize any domestic arrangements other than marriage between a man and a woman. Fifty-seven percent of those polled support the proposal, while 37 percent oppose it.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Most demographic groups favor the amendment, including men and women, young and old, black and white, poor and affluent. The only groups where opposition to the amendment leads are Democrats, independents and people who identify themselves as liberal.

When people were asked if same-sex couples should have any sort of legal recognition, however, the majority favored some recognition, such as domestic partner benefits or civil unions. Only 39 percent of respondents said they oppose all legal recognition, according to the poll.

Meanwhile, both sides of the issue continued to lobby for support Tuesday, focusing on claims that passage of the referendum would weaken domestic violence protections.

With a week until the state primary, amendment backers called those claims "misinformation" and "scare tactics."

"This amendment will have no impact on domestic violence prosecutions, and the citizens of this state should not be deceived into thinking otherwise," said Phil Berger Jr., Rockingham County's District Attorney and the son of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.

Gay marriage debate, same-sex marriage Amendment backers, foes square off over proposal's impact

"What (amendment opponents are) doing is they're using scare tactics and a parade of horribles in an effort to get voters to decide something or to make a decision on something other than the facts," the younger Berger said.

He appeared with a handful of other current and former court officials at a news conference organized by House Majority Leader Paul Stam's office. Several of the officials said there was "no chance" that domestic violence protections would be eroded by the amendment.

The Coalition to Protect All NC Families has aired two television ads in recent weeks that unmarried couples of all genders stood to lose domestic violence protections if the marriage amendment passes. The group has cited legal commentary from law professors across the state as well as Amily McCool, a Wake County prosecutor who specializes in domestic violence cases.

McCool, who is featured in one of the ads, said Tuesday that the amendment is worded ambiguously by proposing that marriage between a man and a woman would be "the only domestic legal union" recognized in the state.

"That phrase, domestic legal union, it has never been defined in North Carolina statutes. It has never been defined by North Carolina courts," she said.

State domestic violence laws apply to "a spouse or former spouse or a person with whom the defendant lives or has lived as if married," McCool said, adding that unmarried people could argue that the amendment bans the state from recognizing any abuse charges they face as domestic violence.

"Those statutes that give additional protection to unmarried couples could be argued to be unconstitutional and found unconstitutional, leaving those victims without that protection," she said.

That happened in Ohio, she said, noting that it took three years before the Ohio Supreme Court clarified the issue.

Jeff Hunt, the district attorney for Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties in western North Carolina, said the confusion over the issue points out the need for the amendment.

"The very fact that somebody can do the legal analysis, in quotes, to arrive at that conclusion points up the muddled thinking that is at the very base of the need to have this constitutional amendment passed," Hunt said.

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  • unclebear83 May 7, 2012

    @tonydgs Im willing to wager that the reason that those kids had such a hard time was because they went to school with peers that hold the same idea of gays as you do.

    Btw, the same sex couples are being FAR FROM selfish in adopting kids that HETERO-Couples abandoned!

  • tonydgs May 4, 2012

    The day a man and a man or a woman and a woman can pro create I will fight for their rights to marry.I raised 2 daughters that had friends that were products of same sex couples- through adoption and failed marriages and these children had such a rough time in school that I wish the ban extended to gays and lesbians from adopting- its just a selfish act that doesn't consider the harm they do to the children they adopt.

  • InformedPatriot May 4, 2012

    Please don't use your Bible as a "faith" weapon.

    When I ask people what JESUS would say about this BAD marriage amendment, the most often-quoted passage I hear is from Mark 10:6-8. "But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female'. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh." That's what Jesus said in Mark Chapter 10, Verses 6 through 8, but what about THE NEXT SENTENCE (Verse 9)? "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

    If we are going to pass a BAD "marriage amendment" because Jesus said "a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife", then we MUST create an equally BAD "divorce amendment" because Jesus said "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

    If we amend our constitution because Jesus said one thing, then we must OUTLAW divorce because Jesus said the other in the next breath.

  • Card Player May 4, 2012

    "If we don't have a standard for what is moral and what is immoral"- good thing this is a legal issue and not one of morality. Being gay isn't immoral or wrong, it's just not right for some people and for others it is right. No moral issues there. Killing, robbing, cheating- THOSE are moral issues, learn the difference. - dwntwnboy

    Who appointed you the arbiter of what is and is not a moral issue?

  • Card Player May 4, 2012

    I personally am in favor of defending Marriage, which I consider to include the most important binding promises most people will ever make. However, if we really want to defend Marriage we should be proposing an Amendment that makes DIVORCE illegal instead, weed out all of the liars and oath-breakers, and get serious about it. - josephus74

    I don't think it should be illegal. I think it should be a lot harder to get divorced though.

  • Card Player May 4, 2012

    Why do liberals always believe that they are the arbiters of what it is ok to believe?

  • tuckerbrian54 May 4, 2012

    Hasn't anyone ever heard of a 6 letter word - CHANGE - Life is always changing, so accept it and move on ... the Amendment is all about Change and I agree, this Amendment is nothing more than a Discrimination against the citizens of North Carolina !

  • Danny22 May 3, 2012

    There are all kinds of problems that occur if gay marriage becomes law from indoctrination of our small children in public schools to adoption guidelines for religious charities. Who wants their 1st graders exposed to alternative lifestyles. This has caused outrage in California.

  • josephus74 May 3, 2012

    I personally am in favor of defending Marriage, which I consider to include the most important binding promises most people will ever make. However, if we really want to defend Marriage we should be proposing an Amendment that makes DIVORCE illegal instead, weed out all of the liars and oath-breakers, and get serious about it.

  • scott34 May 3, 2012

    Passes with no problem! Snivle,snivle.There are still at least 50 % of NC people that are traditionalist. Anytime you see every church in NC, no matter the religion or ethnic group,you know it passes. It's just a shame all the money that has been spent on both sides for this issue.

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