Advocates and opponents of a proposed amendment to North Carolina's constitution are working overtime to win people's support ahead of Tuesday's vote, but the measure which will ensure that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in the state seems set to pass.
Vote For Marriage NC has raised $1.1 million to help pass the amendment, while the opponent Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families has collected $2.2 million to do just the opposite. However, predictions are in favor of the measure, which would provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid in the state.
Last week's poll of 982 likely primary voters by Public Policy Polling indicates that the amendment is likely to pass 55-41 percent. But opponents are counting on their efforts to spread awareness.
Tom Jensen, PPP's director of polling, said the poll suggested that the amendment is failing by more than 20 points among voters who actually understand what the measure does. "People who really understand the amendment oppose it. The problem is that there's a huge chunk of voters that think all the amendment does is ban gay marriage, and with that group there's more than 70 percent support."
But sentiments against gay marriage are still high in the state, boosting the confidence of the proponents.
"North Carolina is still a conservative, church-going state," Gary Pearce, a longtime Democratic political consultant, said, according to Reuters. "Particularly among older voters, there is discomfort with gay marriage. I'm not optimistic."
Advocates are driving record turnout in early voting, which is likely to top that of even the hotly contested 2008 presidential primary in N.C., when Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Evangelist Billy Graham last week urged voters to support the measure. "At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage," he said in a rare statement. "The Bible is clear – God's definition of marriage is between a man and a woman."
Vote FOR Marriage NC previously released an audio message in which Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, asked listeners to "take a stand on God's definition of marriage" between a man and a woman. His sister, Anne Graham Lotz, also backed the measure.
On the other hand, the N.C. chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is portraying it as a civil rights issue and has featured some Christians opposing the measure.
"We should never seek to codify or vote discrimination into the very heart and framework of our Constitution," William J. Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, stated.
The measure is being opposed by some religious leaders who say it would harm children as they could lose health insurance. Jay Bakker, co-founder of Revolution Church in New York City and who grew up in the Tar Heel State, is one of the opponents.
North Carolina has a state law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, but many believe the amendment is needed to protect the law from gay activism. They also fear that if the constitution is not amended, same-sex couples married in other states where gay marriage is legal can move to North Carolina and sue the state to have their marriage recognized.
Twenty-eight states have so far passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.