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North Carolina ready for constitutional ban on gay marriages, says poll

North Carolina will vote Tuesday on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions. One North Carolina poll shows only 38 percent oppose the ban.

By Wade RawlinsReuters / May 8, 2012

Darrow Vanderburgh-Wertz waits to vote on Saturday May 5, 2012, in Durham, N.C. Organizers – for and against – the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in North Carolina urged early voters to cast their ballots.

(AP Photo/The Herald-Sun, Bernard Thomas)

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Raleigh, N.C.

North Carolina voters could deal a blow to efforts across the country to expand gay marriage rights if they approve a state constitutional amendment on Tuesday to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions.

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The state is the only one in the Southeast without such a constitutional prohibition, though same-sex marriage is already outlawed by statute.

The amendment is being decided amid heightened rhetoric about gay marriage from officials in the Obama administration. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Sunday he was "absolutely comfortable" with allowing same-sex couples to wed, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan said gay marriage should be legal.

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President Barack Obama has said he favors civil unions but has stopped short of supporting gay marriage.

Supporters of the proposed amendment in North Carolina, a swing state in the Nov. 6 presidential election, say it would preserve the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman and make laws forbidding gay marriage harder to repeal.

Opponents say a ban would jeopardize health insurance benefits for unmarried gay and heterosexual couples and signal that the state is unfriendly to a diverse workforce.

Former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, recorded a call just ahead of the vote urging North Carolinians to reject the proposed amendment.

"If it passes, it won't change North Carolina's law on marriage," he said in a message sponsored by the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families. "What it will change is North Carolina's ability to keep good businesses, attract new jobs and attract and keep talented entrepreneurs."

A survey of 1,026 likely Democratic and Republican primary voters showed North Carolinians look poised to pass the amendment.

Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling found 55 percent of those questioned on May 5-6 supported the amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions while 39 percent opposed it. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

Twenty-eight states have voter-approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York and the District of Columbia allow gay and lesbian nuptials. Maryland, New Jersey and Washington state passed laws this year approving same-sex marriage, but Governor Chris Christie vetoed New Jersey's law and opponents of Maryland's and Washington's are threatening ballot initiatives to overturn those laws.

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