Voters in North Carolina on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state’s constitution defining marriage as strictly a union between a man and a woman, effectively eliminating the possibility that same-sex unions will ever be allowed in the state.
While same-sex marriage was already prohibited in the state, the amendment, dubbed Amendment One, solidifies the law and deals a serious setback to gay rights advocates who hoped it could one day be repealed.
Amendment One changes the language of North Carolina’s constitution to say specifically that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized.”
The amendment passed with a 61%-39% margin.
Supporters of the amendment say it protects the sanctity of marriage, while opponents call the amendment discriminatory and feel its ramifications will effect more than same-sex couples.
CNN cites a Duke University law professor who feels that, since its language is so vague, the amendment could bring unmarried heterosexual couples who live together unintended consequences concerning issues like child custody and prosecuting domestic violence cases.
Some municipalities in the state currently provide benefits for same-sex couples, and the Duke professor believes the amendment may affect those as well.
Some citizens believe the amendment even affects single people.
“I don’t think people understand it. There’s a lot of confusion about it,” N.C. resident Sara Legatski, who voted against the amendment, told USA Today. “It affects way more than gay marriage, like single-parent families, like myself.”
Despite the objections, supporters of the amendment see it as a step in the right direction for both the state and the nation.
“I think it sends a message to the rest of the country that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Tami Fitzgerald, head of pro-amendment group Vote FOR Marriage NC, told The Associated Press. “The whole point is simply that you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s design based on the demands of a group of adults.”
North Carolina becomes 30th American state to impose a ban on same-sex marriage. Such unions are allowed in six states and the District of Columbia.