by Max Brantley
The polls were right. Or, actually, they underestimated a bit, the margin by which North Carolina voters would adopt Amendment One to further strengthen existing law against same-sex marriage in that state and also raise a host of troubling questions about other relationships, including non-marital heterosexual ones. Can domestic violence laws be enforced against non-marital partners, for example?
The Charlotte Observer's coverage is thorough and its lead editorial criticism of the result reflects its home turf. (Also the editorial cartoon.) The major population and academic centers in North Carolina — Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville, Chapel Hill and so forth — heavily opposed the amendment. Rural areas voted overwhelmingly for it for a 61-39 margin. Polling there illustrated the national divide — acceptance of same-sex relationships among younger voters; resistance among older voters, particularly those who are regular churchgoers. Black precincts, even in the urban areas, voted strongly for further discrimination against a minority group, continuing a national pattern influenced by pastors of black churches. (The black pastor and Duke Divinity School grad who heads the state NAACP was a notable and eloquent exception.)
Good news in this? Not much, except the fact that the tide does really seem to be turning as those most resistant to equal rights die off and, state by state, freedom spreads. A 61 percent approval rating, though a landslide, was much less than the 70-plus numbers racked up in other Southern states, if you seek some small consolation.
PS — Talking Points Memo analyzes the result in the context of the presidential election and President Obama's continued "evolving" on the topic.