The tally board shows how individual state senators voted en route to a 30-16 decision on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011, to have the defense of marriage amendment go to the voters. Staff photo by Chris Seward
It took every Republican in the chamber, but after more than an hour of debate this afternoon, the state Senate voted 30-16 to put the same-sex marriage amendment before voters in May. The bill passed the House yesterday.
The constitutional amendment required three-fifths of the Senate -- or 30 votes to pass -- and the vote was expected to be close, particularly with one Republican absent.
One lawmaker on the fence was Sen. Bill Rabon of Southport. He said he voted to approve the measure because he wanted to give voters the chance to make the decision.
He rejected suggestions that GOP legislative leaders twisted arms to get the affirmative vote. "This was my choice and my vote," he said.
As for how he would vote on the amendment in May, Rabon refused to say. "It's a secret ballot," he said, as he walked into a meeting with the Republican leadership.
Gov. Bev Perdue said today that she will avoid taking a stand on the divisive topic of same-sex marriage while other issues face the state.
The Senate vote came as about 500 protesters rallied against the effort. Hundreds more rallied yesterday on both sides of the issue.
At today's rally, Laura Edwards and Elaine Andrews listened to speakers rally against the "anti-gay amendment." The Chapel Hill couple were married in May in Washington, D.C.
"I think we did it for our daughter," Andrews said, showing a picture from their wedding day where Lilly was the flower girl. "Anything we can do to show its legally done gives her stronger protections."
The rally continued after the vote. Alex Miller, the executive director of Equality NC, asked those in the crowd to "put that anger into action" in May.