Did North Carolinians Vote Against their Own Beliefs?

The most dispiriting number to come out of North Carolina today was the huge margin of victory for a constitutional amendment that, as Candace has noted, will not only forbid same-sex couples from getting married, but will strip couples of any legal protections that might have been offered through domestic partnerships or civil unions.

The broad wording of the amendment is more evidence that anti-gay advocates are lying when they say they’re only concerned about “protecting” marriage. They deliberately and maliciously have gone far beyond that to punish same-sex couples and their families and deny them equal rights as citizens.

The second saddest number comes with its own silver lining. Public Policy Polling reported on Sunday that most North Carolina residents believe that gay couples should have access to some legal protections. But because most voters didn’t understand just how extreme and far-reaching the amendment before them today was, they would vote for it to “protect” marriage. According to PPP:

In some sense North Carolinians are voting against their own beliefs. 53% of voters in the state support either gay marriage or civil unions, yet a majority also support the amendment that would ban both. The reason for that disconnect is even with just 24 hours until election day only 46% of voters realize the proposal bans both gay marriage and civil unions. Those informed voters oppose the amendment by a 61-37 margin but there may not be enough time left to get the rest of the electorate up to speed.

It’s good to know that most people in North Carolina say they support some legal protections for gay couples, but sad that the truth about the amendment couldn’t break through the disinformation that the amendment was all about marriage.

Another bright spot was the vocal opposition to the amendment by Rev. Dr. William Barber, head of the state’s NAACP chapter, who vigorously opposed the effort to write discrimination into the constitution even thought the NAACP does not have an official position on marriage equality.

In spite of the big loss at the polls, equality advocates are not going to curl up in a ball. Tomorrow morning, more than 40 couples taking part in the WE DO campaign are reportedly planning to apply for marriage licenses in eight counties, accompanied by supportive clergy, elected officials, family, and friends.

In each community, the WE DO event will also include a Prayer Service for Reconciliation led by clergy. In select counties, couples and allies will conduct a sit-in at the Register of Deeds Office after the denials occur, as a peaceful act of civil disobedience.

Peter Montgomery, a Washington, DC-based writer, is an associate editor for Religion Dispatches and a Senior Fellow at People For the American Way. His work focuses on religion, politics, and LGBT issues. Follow him on twitter @petemont.