For decades North Carolina Democrats were able to squash state Republicans' dreams of defining marriage as between one man and one women, but after 140 years, conservatives have gained control of the Legislature. And as you may have guessed, they're taking the opportunity to ensure that homosexuals won't have the right to marry in the state.
Today, lawmakers in Raleigh are expected to debate a proposed amendment that would put the gay marriage issue before voters next year, according to the Associated Press. There's already a state law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, but North Carolina Republicans are concerned that they still aren't oppressing homosexuals enough, as they're currently the only state in the South that doesn't have a same-sex marriage ban in its constitution. If legislators move forward with the issue, voters will be asked to decide it the language should be added to the state constitution as well.
Aside from the obvious concerns about married North Carolinians being forced to divorce their spouses and take same-sex partners, Republicans in the state are also moving now because they're hoping to rally voters for the next election. President Obama narrowly won the state in the last election, and Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue is facing a difficult reelection campaign. In 2012 the state will host the Democratic National Convention, and Republicans believe riling people up about gay marraige can help mobilize their supporters.
Marriage equality advocates say that putting the issue to a vote in 2012 will make North Carolina look backward to states that have legalized same-sex marriage, and discourage businesses from coming to the area. They also point out that it isn't like the state has run out of other problems to deal with. Andrew Spainhour is general counsel of the local company Replacements Ltd., where about a quarter of the employees are homosexual. He says, "It makes no sense that North Carolina, in a dark economic hour, should single out a minority of its population for public judgment." However for Republicans, it's never a bad time to butt into people's personal lives and and impose their own moral judgements on others.