(Photo: Vote FOR Marriage NC staff)
With the ongoing debate over marriage definition in the courts and through popular referendums, as of 2012 North Carolina is the only state in the South lacking a marriage amendment to its state constitution.
Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi passed popular referendums along with seven other states in November 2004. When voters in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia approved amendments from 2005 to 2008, North Carolina found itself alone.
Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Vote FOR Marriage NC, a pro-marriage amendment organization, told The Christian Post that the delay was due to the state's General Assembly.
"The previous leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly kept the Marriage Protection Amendment bottled up in committee," said Fitzgerald.
"[Their actions were] denying the people in our state the right to vote on this important issue and leaving marriage in our state vulnerable to being redefined by an activist judge."
Fitzgerald also said that while North Carolina state law does currently define marriage as being between one man and one woman, without a constitutional amendment this law is vulnerable to political activism.
"These statutes can be easily overturned by the courts or changed by the General Assembly, radically redefining marriage as genderless or worse," said Fitzgerald. "We must preserve marriage in our state constitution to protect marriage from radical activists who are willing to do everything in their power to change marriage and make it genderless."
In September 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly voted in favor of holding a statewide referendum on marriage definition. The referendum will be held on May 8, 2012, along with the state and presidential primaries.
According to a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling in January, 56 percent of North Carolina voters are in favor of the amendment and 34 percent opposed.
Dr. Billy McCormack, board of directors for the Christian Coalition of America, told CP that his organization had members in North Carolina that were active in helping the marriage amendment pass.
"The Christian Coalition has many members in North Carolina. They are working diligently in behalf of the amendment," he said.
"The amendment referendum is far from pointless. It drives a stake down to reaffirm that North Carolina believes that marriage is a sacred institution and most necessary for an orderly and progressive society."
McCormack felt that North Carolina being the last state in the South to consider a marriage amendment was part of the long history of the state having "a hard time making up its mind."
"It is very conservative and very liberal. It is a dichotomy. It swings. Southeastern Baptist Seminary was once referred to as Southern Baptists' most liberal child," said McCormack.
"When the southern states began to secede from the union, North Carolina was one of the last to do so … North Carolina has a history of taking time to make up its mind. So it is with the marriage amendment."
The Coalition to Protect NC Families, the organization campaigning against the marriage amendment, did not return comment by press time.