Social Issues, Spring 2012 Articles

State Students Largely Opposed to Amendment One

Although NC State students overwhelming opposed it, NC voters recently approved the North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage Act, also known as Amendment One, on May 8, 2012.  According to the North Carolina Board of Elections, 61% voted for the amendment.  While same-sex marriage was already illegal in NC, the amendment to the state constitution “provide(s) that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”  Thus, it makes not only same-sex marriage constitutionally illegal in the state of NC, but also same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships.

31 other states have passed an amendment to their constitutions to prevent same sex marriage as well. Until now, NC was the only southern state without a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. There are only six states and Washington DC that legally allow same sex marriage to be legitimate and legal.  A study done by Andrew Young at Georgia State University shows that while support for same sex marriage seems to have over half the population’s support, many constitutional bans on it, like in NC, are being approved.  These amendments are being proposed and passed in states where support for same sex marriage is the weakest.  NC is the 12th weakest state for support, with the south in general having the weakest support.

An article by Tom Jenson at PPP that was written before the vote revealed most likely voters did not know all the likely implications of passing of Amendment One.  Only 36% of their survey respondents knew the amendment also banned civil unions and domestic partnerships.  Many North Carolinians believed the amendment would only make an actual same sex marriage illegal.  Yet, most voters support the ban on marriage but do not support taking away all rights of gays to live in a domestic partnership. The PPP results indicate that if all voters were aware of all aspects of the amendment, it would have lost by a 38 – 46 margin.

The Pack Poll and other polling suggests the outcome of that vote would have turned differently had the amendment been voted on by only young adults, such as NCSU students.  A majority of state students said they planned on voting in the primary elections on May 8th 2012, and 68% of respondents who said they planned on voting reported they were opposed to the amendment.

Support by Party ID

State students who are self-identified Democrats were the most opposed to the amendment, with 90% of them against it.  Self-identified Independents were also against the amendment, with 75% opposing it.  Conversely, a slim majority of Republicans were in favor it (55%).

Students across the board appear to favor the legality of gays and lesbians to form civil unions, though. The poll finds 60% of Republican students, 94% of Democrat students and 83% of students identified as Independent are in favor of civil union rights for gays. When the questions turn to the legality of marriage for gays and lesbians, the numbers change only for Republicans. Democrat and Independent students remain supportive of gay and lesbian marriage (92% and 74%, respectively), but just 31% of Republican students support it.

Students With Openly Gay Friends

Widespread support for gay marriage and civil unions among State students seems to be explained by the high percentage of them reporting to have friends who are openly gay.  There is a clear connection between those who know openly gay people and being accepting of same-sex marriages and civil unions.  Our poll finds that 79% of students who have close friends who are openly gay were opposed to the amendment, while only 45% were opposed if they did not have openly gay friends.

This relationship holds even for Republicans, who are the most supportive of Amendment One.  The Pack Poll finds that a majority of Republicans (58%) were against Amendment One if they reported having a close friend who is openly gay.  The percentage opposed to the amendment was even higher among Democrats (93%) and Independents (88%) who have gay friends.


Those Without Openly Gay Friends

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Those With Openly Gay Friends

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