Perdue to vote against constitutional amendment on marriage

Posted October 7, 2011 4:10 p.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2011 7:23 a.m. EDT

— Gov. Bev Perdue said Friday that she plans to vote against a constitutional amendment that would define the union of one man and one woman as the only one legally recognized by the state of North Carolina when it goes on the ballot in May.

In a statement, the governor said that although she believes marriage is between one man and one woman, her focus is on creating jobs for the state's unemployed.

"Too many people are out of work, and I’ve heard from several business leaders who’ve told me that the proposed constitutional amendment will harm our state’s business climate and make it harder to grow jobs here," she said.

"I’m going to vote against the amendment, because I cannot in good conscience look an unemployed man or woman in the eye and tell them that this amendment is more important than finding them a job," she added.

Citing legal experts, Perdue, who voted as a state senator for a 1996 bill banning same-sex marriage, also said that the amendment, if passed, could eliminate legal protections for all unmarried couples in the state, regardless of sexual orientation.

Last month the General Assembly voted to take the issue to the voters.

State law already bans same-sex marriage, and opponents of the constitutional amendment contend that it is unnecessary. Amendment supporters argue that putting it in the constitution would help the state against challenges from same-sex couples married in the six states that allow the unions.

Perdue's announcement comes a week after a statewide Elon University poll found that a majority of North Carolina residents say they oppose the constitutional amendment.

The survey also found that 29 percent of respondents support civil unions or partnerships for gay couples but not full marriage rights. About 33 percent of people support full marriage rights, while 34 percent oppose all legal recognition for same-sex partners.