The controversial Amendment One, which will declare in the state constitution that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized" in North Carolina, won statewide by a wide margin, despite losing in Asheville and some other urban centers.
Sixty-one percent of state voters approved the referendum for the amendment, with 39 percent voting against. Voters in Buncombe, however, went the other way by a small margin, with 51.5 percent voting against the amendment and 48.5 percent for.
N.C. Republican Party Chair Robin Hayes praised the results. “Today citizens across the state of North Carolina voted to define marriage in our constitution,” he said in a press release. “This is a defining day for traditional values in North Carolina, and I’m proud to have voted for protecting marriage.”
Franklin Graham, CEO of the Charlotte-based Billly Graham Evangelistic Association, which sponsored newspaper ads promoting the amendment, said the vote affirmed traditional, biblical principles. “My state of North Carolina became the 31st state to approve a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman,” he said in a statement issued May 10. “While the move to pass amendments defining marriage is relatively new, the definition of marriage is 8,000 years old and was not defined by man, but by God himself.”
Local critics of the amendment said that despite the outcome, they had succeeded in galvanizing opposition that will live on.
"We opened a lot of hearts and minds to an issue that had been very taboo in this state and in the South," said Liz MacNeil, the regional coordinator for the Coalition to Protect All NC Families. "We've activated hundreds of organizations, faith communities and college campuses across the state and nationally. There are going to be a lot of people fighting for what the amendment's taken away."
The coalition issued a statement on the results, declaring that "together, we have proven to North Carolina and the entire country that fear tactics, discrimination, and division may compete with love, compassion, and solidarity in the short term, but we know that the time is coming for true equality."
Buncombe wasn’t entirely alone in its opposition. Other urban areas like Charlotte and the Research Triangle opposed the amendment, along with coastal Dare County and Watauga County, home of Appalachian State University.
City of Asheville Attorney Bob Oast told Xpress he was uncertain about the amendment's impact on the city's domestic-partner benefits, a question he's currently researching and hopes to find the answer to shortly.
Local reaction to the results included an impromptu protest on election night, with some 75 people marching through downtown Asheville denouncing the amendment.
— David Forbes can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 137, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.