The Advocate is now covering this story: “North Carolina Is in for a Fight on Marriage.”

I blogged earlier about the preposterous and offensive statement by the Republican Speaker of the NC House about same-sex committed relationships (claiming “data” show that same-sex marriages are not as ‘stable and nurturing’ as “traditional marriages.” I actually emailed my post to Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg; his contact page here; Twitter handle: @thomtillis).

Equality NC responded to Tillis’s comments and his support for an anti-gay discrimination amendment that the GOP-controlled General Assembly would like to bring to a vote and place on the ballot in 2012 (our governor Bev Perdue has no veto power).

N.C. Speaker of the House Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) told the Asheville’s Citizen-Times that he expects a constitutional amendment that would prohibit recognition of same-gender couples’ relationships to be “brought up in a special fall [legislative] session.” He added that he predicts the amendment, legislation effectively writing discrimination directly into the state’s founding document, would pass by the required majority needed to place it on the 2012 ballot and place the state’s LGBT marriage ban up for popular vote.

Tillis told the Asheville paper that a constitutional ban on marriage for same-gender couples is something “a number of folks in our base feel very strongly about.” Tillis added, “Generally speaking, it polls fairly high across the voter base. It’s not a particularly partisan thing.”

The Reality of Support for Marriage Equality & Legal Relationship Recognition for Same-Gender Couples

Tillis himself cites broad voter support for marriage discrimination legislation. As Qnotes‘ Matt Comer reported, the Speaker’s comments come as “social conservatives in the legislature have circulated an opinion poll that showed as many as 70 percent of North Carolinians supporting the amendment, though an Elon University poll also showed a majority of Tar Heel residents supporting some sort of official recognition for same-sex relationships.”

In reality, even before the recent victory for marriage equality in New York, the Elon poll referenced is but one of a series of local and national polls in recent months showing seismic shifts in support for relationship recognition and marriage equality, including:

Gallup (May 2011) For the first time in Gallup polling of the issue, a majority of Americans believe gay marriage should be recognized by the law as valid.

CNN (April 2011) CNN opinion poll shows a majority of Americans in favor of marriage equality, with more than half saying that marriages between gay and lesbian couples “should be recognized by the law as valid.”

Public Policy Polling (March 2011)

The PPP survey showed 52% of North Carolina voters supporting marriage or another form of legal recognition.

Elon Poll (Ferbuary 2011)

A majority of North Carolinians support marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples, with 57% support for marriage, civil union, or partnerships for same-sex couples.

Despite this support for the legal relationship recognition in North Carolina and beyond, a version of the anti-LGBT amendment would be used to prohibit marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships. Tillis said he expects the measure to pass the House by 72 votes, the minimum three-fifths majority necessary for the amendment to become a voter referendum.

More below the fold.

“Recent local and national polling and data, not to mention the bipartisan victory for NY marriage equality, clearly shows that attitudes are changing on the side of marriage equality, and not in favor of blatant marriage discrimination legislation like the anti-LGBT amendment,” said Alex Miller, Equality NC’s interim executive director. “When you combine these polls with the recent census data showing that same-sex couples are among the fastest-growing demographics in our state, we believe there are a great many legislators who realize that support for such an amendment could ultimately hurt them.”

Up to this point, Tillis has not taken a formal position on whether the amendment should also ban civil unions and domestic partner benefits offered by private businesses or local governments, such as those approved last year for same-sex domestic partners of City of Asheville employees. “We’re doing our homework. We do need to understand that and have that factor in to what will ultimately be put into the language,” he told the Asheville paper.

Support for Marriage Equality is not a Partisan Issue

Homework on this issue would reveal that support for marriage equality is far from a partisan issue, as a poll released in May by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows a majority of Republicans from all across the country now support some form of legal recognition for gay couples.The PPP poll, drawing from opinions of over 1,000 GOP voters nationwide, was particularly revealing when broken out by age and income levels, both of which suggest a political and economic cost for attacking LGBT families.

Tactics Employed to Reinforce Marriage Discrimination

While Tillis declined to tell the Asheville Citizen Times how he personally feels about marriage equality, he did reinforce the move for an anti-LGBT amendment by saying that “data” shows that “traditional marriages between men and women are more stable and nurturing.”

In truth, every major organization devoted to child health and welfare in this country agrees that the children of same-gender couples are just as likely to be healthy and well-adjusted as the children of opposite-gender couples. The American Psychological Association found that “There is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation: Lesbian and gay parents are just as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children.” Period.The APA also said that those children will benefit if their parents are able to marry.

Just this week, the American Medical Association also weighed in, adopting a policy position declaring that excluding same-sex couples from marriage is “discriminatory” and reaffirming existing AMA policy to support relationship recognition of same-gender couples as a means of addressing health disparities faced by those couples and their children.

ENC’s Miller added, “Instead of somehow defending marriage, the anti-LGBT amendment will hurt the tens of thousands of children being raised by same-gender parents in North Carolina. And so, legislators need to be aware that these families will be voting in 2012, and be joined by friends, family, neighbors and co-workers who are unwilling to support a measure that enshrines discrimination against them into our state’s constitution.”

Click here to find out more about the proposed anti-LGBT constitutional amendment and how you can join our campaign to stop it.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding