The amendment, which will be on the May 8 primary ballot, is aimed at preventing a state judge from redefining marriage to include gay couples, as has happened in Massachusetts, Iowa and Connecticut. The amendment, known as Amendment 1, reads: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State."
Twenty-nine states have similar amendments in their respective constitutions.
"While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples," Cameron French, a spokesperson for the Obama North Carolina campaign, said in a statement to the media. "That's what the North Carolina ballot initiative would do -- it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples -- and that's why the president does not support it."
But Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Vote FOR Marriage NC -- the coalition backing the amendment -- said Obama's position would allow a judge to determine the issue.
"Not only did President Obama state during his election battle in 2008 that he believes marriage is the union between one man and woman, but he said that for him as a Christian, it is also a sacred union, invoking the name of 'God' as his source," Fitzgerald said in a statement.
"Unfortunately, his recommendation against the Marriage Protection Amendment would leave the definition of marriage up to an activist judge instead of the people of our State," Fitzgerald said. "President Obama has no business inserting himself into the people's business in North Carolina. The people of North Carolina cannot sit by and let marriage as the union of one man and one woman be destroyed by a handful of political activists or by activist judges."
The amendment has led in at least two polls this year:
-- A Civitas Poll conducted Feb. 27-28 of 600 likely voters showed the amendment leading 64-30 percent.
-- A Public Policy Polling survey conducted Jan. 5-8 of 780 registered voters showed the amendment ahead, 56-34 percent.
Each poll's question was nearly identical and used the exact wording on the ballot.
Both polls differed dramatically with an Elon University poll conducted among 605 state residents Feb. 26-March 1 showing adults opposing the amendment, 54-38 percent. But that survey used very different language from the other two polls, framing the issue negatively: "Would you an amendment to the North Carolina constitution that would prevent any same sex marriages?"
In a Tweet, Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen called it a "fatal flaw" for Elon University not to use the "exact ballot language" that voters will see when they enter the booth May 8. Public Policy Polling's survey of Maine in 2009 was the only one to correctly predict residents there would reverse a law that had legalized gay "marriage."
For more information about the amendment, visit VoteForMarriageNC.com.
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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