Now that Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee, it appears that the hottest issue to be decided in the North Carolina primary next month is the marriage amendment. Elected boards are taking positions, rallies are being held, yard signs are popping up, and leaders are stating opposition or support.
The latest Elon University Poll results show that 61% of North Carolinians say they oppose an amendment that would prevent any same sex marriages, domestic partnerships or civil unions. The poll is of North Carolina residents, not likely voters. Other polls of likely voters indicate more support for the amendment itself.
Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, explains how the nation’s opinion of same-sex marriage has shifted in the past few years. Majorities of the millennial generation, who were a very small share of the electorate in 2004 when the gay marriage issue rallied the conservative base, have grown in number and have consistently favored. But also, many older Americans have changed their minds. Since 2004, support for gay marriage has increased from 30 percent to 40 percent among baby boomers, and even among seniors (from 18 percent to 32 percent). (On balance, though, most members of this generation remain opposed, at 56 percent.)
The biggest question may well be which side will show up on May 8. The lack of competitive GOP presidential or gubernatorial contests will dampen conservative turnout. On the Democratic side, the presidential ticket is decided, of course, but the gubernatorial nominee isn’t. But that race hasn’t generated much excitement yet.
Opposition to the amendment is visible on the streets and in letters to the editor columns. Support seems to be centered in churches, but has been much quieter.
– John Robinson