Early voting period ends Saturday afternoon
Posted May 4, 2012 8:24 a.m. EDT
Updated May 4, 2012 11:13 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — With North Carolina's controversial marriage amendment driving people to the polls, the early voting period – which ends Saturday at 1 p.m. – has been especially busy.
As of Thursday morning, about 300,000 people had turned out to vote ahead of next week's long-awaited primary. With one-stop early-voting sites open much of the day Friday and the first half of the day Saturday, those numbers are expected to keep climbing.
The passionate pleas to get people to the polls will continue at rallies around the area this weekend, as people on both sides of the amendment debate urge others to cast a vote Tuesday.
In Wilson on Friday, a group against the proposed amendment will rally at the Wilson County Courthouse. On Saturday, more than 10,000 supporters of gay marriage were expected to rally in downtown Raleigh. Another group against the amendment will hold a block party Sunday at The Pinhook in downtown Durham.
The amendment on the ballot reads, "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."
But there's a second sentence to it that is not on the ballot that would also be added to the constitution if the amendment passes: "This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts."
The amendment would ban same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships for unmarried couples, straight or gay. It could only be changed by another constitutional amendment..
Twenty-eight other states have approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, but the bans are not all the same. Some only address marriage, while others go further. No other state has enacted the exact language of North Carolina's amendment.
An exclusive WRAL News poll asked more than 1,100 registered voters if they would vote for or against the constitutional amendment, and about 57 percent of people who responded said they would vote for the amendment. Thirty-seven percent said they would vote against it, and 6 percent of voters said they were undecided.