Tillis: Marriage amendment likely to be reversed

Posted March 27, 2012 3:04 p.m. EDT
Updated March 27, 2012 6:49 p.m. EDT

— Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis is standing by a prediction that the proposed amendment to the North Carolina Constitution banning same-sex marriage will be approved by voters, only to be reversed within a generation.

Opponents of the ban have seized on Tillis' comments, which were made Monday before a student group at North Carolina State University and first reported by Technician, the campus newspaper.

Tillis was quoted as predicting the amendment will pass with about 54 percent of the vote, but will be repealed within 20 years because young people are more supportive of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Although he said he has philosophical issues with the amendment proposal – as a conservative, he's wary of government intrusion into people's lives – he still supports having the GOP-backed measure on the May 8 primary ballot.

"This generation and the majority of people today seem to be interested in having the question asked and then voted by the people," Tillis said.

Same-sex marriage is already illegal in North Carolina, but say the amendment is needed to protect marriage from being redefined by the courts.

Jeremy Kennedy, manager of the Protect All NC Families campaign, which opposes the amendment, said a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is overly restrictive and unnecessary.

"Same-sex marriage is already illegal in this state. This amendment does nothing to change that. Whether this passes or fails, that won't change," Kennedy said. "What will happen is there will be children that lose their health care, domestic violence laws that will be put in jeopardy and there are real harms that this amendment will cause to people."

The group has raised more than $1.1 million to fight the amendment.

Meanwhile, a national group is using a divisive strategy in an effort to get the amendment approved, according to court documents from a case in Maine.

The National Organization for Marriage has toured the state in recent weeks to rally support for the measure. According to confidential strategy documents, the group has been trying to "drive a wedge between gays and blacks – two key Democratic constituencies" by maintaining that marriage isn't a civil right.

The internal memo says the group seeks out blacks who disapprove of gay marriage and develops a media campaign around that. Then, the group tries to "provoke the gay marriage base into ... denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots."

Maggie Gallagher, co-founder of the group, said white liberals not paying attention to the wishes of black voters are the only people driving the wedge in the issue.