North Carolina voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment on Tuesday that makes marriage between a man and a woman the only kind of union recognized by the state. Thanks to the 60-40 vote, North Carolina is the 30th state to change its constitution to ban gay marriage, though the measure — called Amendment One — goes further than many other states' laws by also banning civil unions and domestic partnerships for both gay and straight couples. Here, four takeaways from the vote:
1. North Carolina is much redder than it was in 2008
President Obama narrowly won North Carolina in 2008, and it was the last Southern state without a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. Democrats were feeling pretty good about their Tar Heel State odds in 2012 — so much so that they decided to hold their national convention in Charlotte in September, says Molly Ball at The Atlantic. But the landslide on Amendment One, which Obama fought against, "underscores that North Carolina has become more hostile territory" for the president than it was four years ago.
2. Gay couples aren't the only ones under attack
Of course, the passage of Amendment One dealt a big blow to the rights and legal options of same-sex couples, says Steven Thrasher at The Village Voice. But Amendment One also hurts many straight couples because it jeopardizes the rights, and health insurance, of heterosexual domestic partners. Not only that, but living under a state constitution that "legalizes discrimination" may drive away pro-equality Fortune 500 companies, "hurting the economic options for totally gay and totally straight North Carolinians alike. And they'll be hurt for at least a generation, if not generations."
3. Americans may not be as tolerant as they claim
"Polls on the issue of gay marriage don't seem to mean anything," says Bryan Preston at Pajamas Media. Gallup just released a poll saying that Americans are evenly split on gay marriage, but voters in states from North Carolina to California have voted otherwise. That's partly because gay rights activists try to bully people into joining their cause, so voters will "tell a pollster one thing" because they don't want to be accused of being intolerant, then express their true beliefs about marriage once "they're alone in the voting booth."
4. Gay marriage opponents are making their last stand
Yes, social conservatives won in North Carolina on Tuesday, says Daniel Allott at The American Spectator. But such victories "may be the last gasps" of a cause most Republican lawmakers are no longer interested in fighting. Many conservatives, just like President Obama, have views on gay marriage that are "evolving." Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, and other prominent Republicans have "made overtures to the gay community." Clearly, even many right-wing politicians aren't willing to "make the fundamental moral argument against homosexuality" anymore, and once the moral argument is conceded, the battle is lost.