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North Carolina approves ban on same-sex marriage by wide margin

The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd shares the results of key voters in Indiana, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

Updated at 8:17 a.m. ET: North Carolina voters Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution which limits marriage to traditional one man-one woman marriages.

With all of the state's 100 counties reporting, the amendment won in a landslide, with 61 percent of the vote.

Supporters of traditional marriage were encouraged by the outcome in North Carolina and portrayed it as part of a trend in their favor.

“Our position that marriage is between a man and a woman is gaining support, not losing support,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.

“Earlier this week the Gallup poll showed that support for same-sex marriage is down. Actual vote percentages in favor of traditional marriage are rising. In 2008 in California, the Prop 8 constitutional amendment on traditional marriage passed with 52 percent of the vote. Then in 2009 in Maine, 53 percent of voters stood for traditional marriage and rejected same-sex marriage legislation. In 2010, 56 percent of Iowa voters rejected three Supreme Court judges who had imposed gay marriage in that state. And now more than 60 percent of North Carolina voters have passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. There is a clear trend line, and it is moving in our direction.”

Gerry Broome / AP

Signs in support of and against the Constitutional Marriage Amendment greet voters May 8 at a polling location at Leesville Road Middle School in Raleigh, N.C.

On other other side, some gay and lesbian rights advocates portrayed the North Carolina outcome as a case of voters being uninformed or deceived.

The gay and lesbian advocacy group Faith in America said that voters were “duped into believing their religious belief justified bringing harm to the state's gay and lesbian individuals, especially youth and their families.”

The group said, “We acknowledge the right of voters to decide issues but we do not believe such an expression of bigotry should have been put to a vote by individuals who were banking on a win because of the populace's misunderstanding about sexual orientation….”

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, called the North Carolina outcome “what happens when a preemptive ballot-measure is stampeded through before people have had enough time to take in real conversations about who gay families are and why marriage matters to them.”

For his part President Obama, according to his North Carolina campaign spokesman, was “disappointed” by the result.

Related: Is Obama's gay marriage stance all about suburban voters?

"The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples.  He believes the North Carolina measure singles out and discriminates against committed gay and lesbian couples, which is why he did not support it,” said Cameron French, the North Carolina press secretary for Obama’s campaign.

Obama won North Carolina in the 2008 election and his party is holding the Democratic national convention there in September.

One noteworthy pattern was that some majority black counties which had strongly backed Obama in 2008 just as strongly supported the proposed amendment on Tuesday.


 For example, Hertford County, with a 60 percent black population, voted for Obama with 70 percent in 2008 and on Tuesday 70 percent of its voters backed the constitutional amendment defining marriage.

And Halifax County, with a 53 percent black population, voted for Obama with 64 percent in 2008 and backed the amendment with 68 percent of its votes.

 The amendment says: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” In effect, it would bar the state from giving legal recognition to civil unions between same-sex couples.

Under North Carolina law, same-sex marriages are already banned.

Related: North Carolina amendment could impact gay and straight couples

And opponents of the constitutional amendment did not make the argument that defeating it was a prelude to changing the law so that same-sex couples could legally marry in North Carolina.

“This is not a conversation about a possible change of law down the road,” said Paul Guequierre, a spokesperson for the Coalition to Protect All North Carolina Families, the main group rallying opposition to the amendment, on Monday.

By approving the amendment, North Carolina joins 28 other states that have state constitutional provisions limiting marriage to man-woman unions.

Related: Half of Americans support gay marriage in new Gallup poll

A Gallup Poll released Tuesday showed the American people split on the same-sex marriage question: 50 percent think marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid, but 48 percent think they should not be recognized as legal. Among Democrats, 65 percent say same-sex marriages should be recognized by the law as valid, but among only about one in five Republicans hold that view. Among independents, 57 percent think sex marriages should be legally recognized.

Thirty-eight states have prohibitions of same-sex marriage in their laws. Six states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages.