North Carolina voters on Tuesday approved a state constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage and civil unions, major media projected, dealing a blow to efforts across the US to expand gay marriage rights.
The amendment, which says marriage between a man and a woman is the only legally recognized domestic union in the state, passed by a wide margin. With half of the counties’ results at least partially reported, about 61 percent of votes backed the amendment.
North Carolina law already blocks gay and lesbian couples from marrying, but the state now joins the rest of states in the southeast in adding the prohibition to its constitution.
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 have passed laws this year approving same-sex marriage, but Governor Chris Christie vetoed New Jersey’s law, while opponents in Maryland and Washington are threatening ballot -initiatives to overturn those laws.
The vote in North Carolina followed statements by senior officials of the administration of US President Barack Obama this week which were interpreted as supporting gay marriage.
US Vice President Joe Biden said on Sunday he was “absolutely comfortable” with allowing same-sex couples to wed, while US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said gay marriage should be legal.