Follows vote adding constitutional ban on SSM
On the morning of May 9, LGBT couples began requesting marriage licences in North Carolina to call for full equality under federal law. The action began the morning after North Carolina voters passed Amendment One, a far-reaching ban on same-sex marriage (SSM) as well as other forms of relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples, was approved by North Carolina voters on Tuesday, despite the state's long history of moderate politics. North Carolina law already banned gay marriage, but the amendment effectively slams the door shut.
The WE DO campaign is being coordinated by the Campaign for Southern Equality.
Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said of the campaign “LGBT couples will request—and be denied —marriage licenses in a call for full federal equality. We believe that the path to full equality is on the federal level, and we will continue to grow the WE DO Campaign across the South until we reach that goal.”
“The passage of Amendment One is a heartbreaking loss for families in North Carolina, but will not stop us in the march toward full equality,” Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese. “As the country continues to move in the direction of marriage equality, our opponents have cynically interrupted the important conversations taking place which lead to increased understanding and acceptance.”
In the final days before the vote, members of President Barack Obama's cabinet expressed support for gay marriage and former President Bill Clinton recorded phone messages urging voters to oppose the amendment.
In March, an Elon University poll of adult residents found two-thirds of the state as a whole supports either gay marriage or civil unions.
“We are severely disappointed that Amendment One has passed. But we also now know that a growing number of North Carolinians support equality for LGBT people,” Beach-Ferrara said.
Supporters of the amendment responded with marches, television ads and speeches, including one by Jay Bakker, son of late televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. The Rev. Billy Graham was featured in full-page newspaper ads backing the amendment.
Obama's North Carolina campaign spokesman issued a statement in March saying the president opposed the amendment. Obama, who supports most gay rights, has stopped short of backing gay marriage. Without clarification, he's said for the past year and a half that his personal views on the matter are "evolving."
His election-year vagueness on gay marriage is coming under fresh scrutiny.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan broke ranks with the White House on Monday, stating his unequivocal support for same-sex marriage one day after Vice President Joe Biden said he is "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex married couples getting the same rights at heterosexual married couples.
State House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican, said before the vote that even if the amendment passed, it would be reversed as today's young adults age.
"It's a generational issue," Tillis told a student group at North Carolina State University in March about the amendment he supports. "If it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years."
The amendment was placed on the ballot after Republicans took over control of the state legislature after the 2010 elections, a role the Republicans hadn't enjoyed for 140 years.
"In other states, judges have redefined marriage, without a vote of the people. That's happened in California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts," said Tami Fitzgerald, who heads the pro-amendment group Vote FOR Marriage NC. “The origin of marriage is from God, and I think most people in our state know that."
Associated Press writers Gary D. Robertson and Allen Breed contributed to this report.