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North Carolina voters approve amendment banning same-sex marriage

Voters in North Carolina on Tuesday passed a constitutional amendment [Amendment 1, PDF] to ban same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder]. The amendment reads that "marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State." Sixty-one percent of voters approved [CNN report] the restricted definition of marriage. The amendment also bars any type of same-sex domestic union, including domestic partnerships and civil unions. Opponents of the ban were quick to react. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force [advocacy website] released a statement [text] saying:

North Carolina has wandered into treacherous terrain with [the amendment]. ... Many North Carolinians, including seniors, single women and children, could be placed in peril because the shrinking definition of family excludes them. Some might even be denied life-saving services like domestic violence protections. This is a brutal step backward for relationship recognition in North Carolina.
Although North Carolina already had a statutory definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, it was the only southern state that did not have a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. North Carolina is now the thirty-first state to pass such a ban on same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage remains a controversial issue throughout the US. The North Carolina Legislature [official website] in September approved [JURIST report] putting the constitutional amendment on a statewide ballot. Earlier that month the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Arizona House Bill 2013, a law rescinding health benefits for same-sex couples in the public sector, is in violation of the equal protection clause of the US Constitution. In May 2011, the Minnesota Legislature approved [JURIST report] adding a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the November 2012 ballot. In April 2011, the Indiana Senate overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage or any "substantially similar" status, and the Wyoming Senate in February 2011 approved a bill that would void in Wyoming any same-sex marriages and civil unions [JURIST reports] performed in other jurisdictions.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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