US state bans gay marriage - projection

2012-05-09 09:13

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Raleigh - North Carolina voters on Tuesday approved a state constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage and civil unions, major media projected, dealing a blow to efforts across the United States to expand gay marriage rights.

The amendment, which says marriage between a man and a woman is the only legally recognised domestic union in the state, passed by a wide margin. With half of the counties' results at least partially reported, about 61% of votes backed the amendment.

North Carolina law already blocks gay and lesbian couples from marrying, but the state now joins the rest of states in the Southeast in adding the prohibition to its constitution.

Twenty-eight states have voter-approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York and the District of Columbia allow gay and lesbian nuptials.

Maryland, New Jersey and Washington state have passed laws this year approving same-sex marriage, but Governor Chris Christie vetoed New Jersey's law and opponents in Maryland and Washington are threatening ballot initiatives to overturn those laws.

Obama support

The vote in North Carolina followed statements by senior officials of President Barack Obama's administration this week which were interpreted as supporting gay marriage.

Vice President Joe Biden said on Sunday he was "absolutely comfortable" with allowing same-sex couples to wed, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan said gay marriage should be legal.

Obama has said he favours civil unions but has stopped short of supporting gay marriage.

Supporters of the amendment in North Carolina, a swing state in the 6 November presidential election, said it would preserve the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman and make laws forbidding gay marriage harder to repeal.

Opponents said a ban would jeopardise health insurance benefits for unmarried gay and heterosexual couples and signal that the state is unfriendly to a diverse workforce.

Former Democratic President Bill Clinton recorded a call just ahead of the vote urging North Carolinians to reject the proposed amendment.

"It won't change North Carolina's law on marriage," he said in a message sponsored by the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families. "What it will change is North Carolina's ability to keep good businesses, attract new jobs and attract and keep talented entrepreneurs."

Read more on:    joe biden  |  barack obama  |  us  |  gay rights
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