Amendment arguments heat up as vote looms

Posted April 25, 2012 5:34 p.m. EDT
Updated April 26, 2012 5:57 a.m. EDT

— North Carolina voters are deciding whether to codify the definition of marriage into the state constitution and advocacy groups on both sides are working to get out the vote. Dueling advertisements are claiming TV time and those in favor and opposed are lining up high-profile endorsements.

On Wednesday, the North Carolina Pediatric Society was the latest group to go on the record with opposition to the Marriage Amendment. "We worry that anything that affects the family, that weakens the family, actually will weaken our children," said Dr. Peter Morris.

Meanwhile, amendment supporters unveiled an endorsement from presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich. "There's an effort by radicals at every level to change who we are, to change what America is, to change for our children into a future that I think will be much worse," he says.

Data from television stations in the state's two largest media markets shows amendment opponents outspending amendment backers by almost two to one.

The Coalition to Protect NC Families has spent $462,390 on broadcast ads in Raleigh and Charlotte, according to data television stations are required to disclose.

The coalition spent another $91,000 on statewide cable buys, according to information from Time Warner Cable.

Co-chairman Alex Miller said they plan to spend about $600,000 before election day May 8, and they've raised $1.7 million dollars to date, mostly in small in-state donations. "We're really gratified by the support we've received," she said. "We've seen an upswing lately as folks learn more about the amendment. They stand up and oppose it and make a contribution as they can."

On the pro-amendment side, Vote for Marriage NC has spent $216,915 on ads in the Charlotte and Raleigh markets that began running this week and will run through May 8. The groups spent another $56,500 on statewide cable buys, according to Time Warner Cable.

Rachel Lee, a spokeswoman for the group would not say how much more money the group has in reserve for the closing weeks of the campaign.

"We're gonna raise and spend as much money as it takes to get that message out to our voters, so they stay strong on marriage and aren't persuaded by the falsehoods being propagated from the other side," Lee said.

Early voting is already underway at locations across the state. Election Day is May 8.