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North Carolina now voting on marriage rights

In yet another effort to discriminate against the LGBT community, a new constitutional amendment in North Carolina would legally ban same-sex marriage in the state. Early voting began today in North Carolina; the state's primary will take place on May 8.

Amendment 1 would define marriage between one man and one woman as "the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized" in North Carolina, and would add the ban to the state’s constitution. The amendment has prompted criticism from LGBT groups and North Carolina businesses, who say that the amendment promotes discrimination and will hurt the state’s development.

If passed, North Carolina, which already bans same-sex marriage by statute, would be the 31st state in the country to amend its constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Not including North Carolina, 38 states also currently have statutory laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

There are currently eight states in the U.S., plus the District of Columbia, that issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. For five months in 2008, California also issued same-sex marriage licenses, but the passage of Proposition 8 amended the state’s constitution to restrict same-sex marriage licenses. A federal court declared the ban unconstitutional in 2010, but a series of stays has kept licenses from being issued.

Massachusetts was the first state to legally recognize same-sex marriage after a 2004 ruling by their state’s Supreme Court. Then-Governor Mitt Romney ordered clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but has recently said while on the campaign trail that he would push for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the U.S. if he were to become President.

Advocates of the North Carolina amendment are cited the Defense of Marriage Act -- advocates like Gaston County Commissioner Tracy Philbeck, who told Thomas Roberts yesterday on msnbc (above) that the amendment "doesn’t add discrimination, it simply reinforces the statutes that we have on the book already. What the opposition would like to do is redefine marriage."

Call it what you will, but amending the constitution to exclude a group of people sounds like the essence of legalized discrimination. Banning people from participating in marriage is sadly nothing new in America: let's not forget that up until 1967, interracial marriage was still illegal in most of the South. But considering that younger conservatives don't seem to care all that much about the fight against same-sex marriage, it seems that the ones pushing for this legislation are simply "out of touch."