North Carolina voters, an important election 2012 swing state demographic, have approved a constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage and defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The amendment also bans civil unions. More from the National Journal:
The Associated Press declared Amendment 1 passed. With 39 percent of precincts reporting, the measure has 58 percent support.
The vote came as President Obama has been facing criticism from his base for not coming out in favor of gay marriage, even as several of his Cabinet officials have expressed support. The most recent Gallup poll shows a plurality of voters support gay marriage – with the number backing it growing over the last several years. But the results in North Carolina, a major presidential battleground, could temper some of that momentum.
While an existing statute outlawed gay marriage, North Carolina was the only Southern state without a constitutional ban.
North Carolina is the 29th state to vote in approval of the ban. The vote comes just two days after Vice President Joe Biden threw team Obama into damage control mode by claiming the administration was pro-gay marriage.
"I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction-- beyond that," Biden replied.
His answer was somewhat muddled, and prefaced by a sort of disclaimer — "I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy." — but chaotic, immediate reactions from his advisers and from Obama's suggested he had gone too far.
North Carolina's vote to ban same sex marriage serves an indicator of a problem for President Obama on this issue in November. He refuses to come out fully against same sex marriage, while trying to stick to his stance on the issue during the 2008 election when he said he believed marriage should be between one man and one woman. However, Obama has also described his stance on the issue as "evolving."