Bill Clinton chimes in on N.C. same-sex marriage ban
May 6th, 2012
04:17 PM ET
9 years ago

Bill Clinton chimes in on N.C. same-sex marriage ban

(CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton voiced his opposition to an upcoming North Carolina ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage, recording a robo call set to go out to half a million voters in the state on Monday.

“Hello, this is President Bill Clinton. I'm calling to urge you to vote against Amendment One on Tuesday May 8,” Clinton says in the recording.

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While North Carolina already bans same-sex marriage, the provision would officially stamp the policy defining marriage as the union of one man and one women as an amendment into the Constitution, making it the final state in the Southeast to add such a law regarding same-sex marriage.

Amendment One outlaws not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions and domestic partnerships of the same gender.

In Clinton’s robo call, he insists the passage of the law would have a damaging effect on the state’s reputation and economy.

“If it passes, it won't change North Carolina's law on marriage. What it will change is North Carolina's ability to keep good businesses, attract new jobs, and attract and keep talented entrepreneurs,” he says.

In the call, released by the advocacy group Protect NC Families, Clinton went on to say losing even one job as a result of the measure would be “too big of a risk.”

“So the real effect of the law is not to keep the traditional definition of marriage, you've already done that,” Clinton said. “The real effect of the law will be to hurt families and drive away jobs. North Carolina can do better.”

Clinton, who once opposed same-sex marriage, changed his personal position on the issue and made his decision public in 2009.

“I am no longer opposed to that," he said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. "I think if people want to make commitments that last a lifetime, they ought to be able to do it."

He added, however, he still believes it's a decision that should be left to the states.

Other high-profile figures have weighed in on the debate, including famed evangelist Billy Graham, who endorsed the initiative last week.

The 93-year-old took out full-page ads in 14 North Carolina newspapers touting his support for the measure. On his website, he encourages churches to download a poster that bears his image and the message "Vote for Marriage May 8th."

“Watching the moral decline of our country causes me great concern," the pastor said in a statement on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website. "I believe the home and marriage is the foundation of our society and must be protected.”

- CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin and CNN Belief Blog co-editor Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

Filed under: Bill Clinton • North Carolina • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. George form Raleigh

    NC would vote down the amendment if the proponets had the guts to hold the vote during the regular election instead of a primary. Its been a hundred years since we last had a republican majority in both the house and senate. I guess it will be another hundred yeards before projgressives can repair the damage they have done in two years.

    May 6, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    According to Professor of Sociology and Public Policy Andrew Cherlin at Johns Hopkins University: "Surprisingly, the South and West, which we think of as more socially conservative, have higher rates of divorce than does the supposedly liberal East. The reason is that young adults in the South and West tend to have less education and marry earlier, both of which lead to a higher risk of divorce."

    You'd think North Carolina's bigger concern would be to address their already dismal record on education and divorce, instead of fanning the flames of these divisive social issues ...

    May 6, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  3. mcskadittle

    why should states have the right to decide whos rights get preference and who get discriminated against?

    May 6, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. Liz the First

    Thank you, Bill, for being a force for good and reason in the world. states have no business discriminating against people because of sexual orientation and no business denying people the right to enter into a legal contract, which is what civil marriage is. i totally support any church's right to refuse to marry whoever they want. the governme1nt should not have that right as long as we pride ourselves on being the land of the free, with liberty and justice for ALL

    May 6, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. Srq1

    Thank you President Clinton. You're a courageous man, & your wife's awesome and inspiring!

    May 6, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. DSO

    “If it passes, it won't change North Carolina's law on marriage. What it will change is North Carolina's ability to keep good businesses, attract new jobs, and attract and keep talented entrepreneurs,”

    So if it doesn't change the law, how does it affect businesses, jobs, and entrepreneurs?

    May 6, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. Gurgyl

    Just do not vote for this.

    May 6, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  8. Another Day in the RW Idiot Mines

    The "pro-family" GOBP hypocrites want to prevent the formation of two-married parent families. The "small government" GOBP hypocrites want to regulate personal and private conduct that directly impacts families. The "pro-business" GOBP hypocrites ignore the wishes of business in order to cater to the bigots the GOBP cult is counting on for November. The GOBP cult has hit the hypocrisy trifecta!

    May 6, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  9. GonzoinHouston

    Good ole conservatives, as sexually obsessed as ever. Let's get government out of the boardroom and into the bedroom! This is the ultimate example of religious bigotry enforced by politics. I've lived in NC, much to my regret, and I can assure you that, the Research Triangle notwithstanding, it is a state made up largely of ignorant, hateful bigots. Avoid it if you can.

    May 6, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  10. Four and The Door

    why should states have the right to decide whos rights get preference and who get discriminated against?
    First, I will say that I think this law would be wrong and I would vote against it if it was on my ballot. But in answer to your question it absolutely falls in the powers of States and not the federal government. That's in the Constitution. It's a law dealing with the lives of individuals and it is a state power. Just like health care. The founding fathers were very clear. And brilliant in their drafting of The Constitution.

    May 6, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. Optimist

    @George From Raleigh: I agree with you. Republicans worked out a deal with some democrats for their votes not to put it on the general election. I voted against it because republicans have over reached. They have no idea how to handle power. It will take us a long time to repair the damage republicans have done the last 2 years.
    @Think Again: Please don't generalize everyone in the south. I have a Master's Degree and have been married almost 40 years. There are uneducated and divorced people in every state.

    May 6, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  12. B.

    Let’s face it, NC is not exactly the "Brightest Spot" on the planet.

    May 6, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  13. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    States and Churches have no right in deciding in this matter, they already have the so called "moral right" of who lives and who dies.

    May 6, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  14. revmlo

    As a North Carolinian, I have always found it interesting that so many who live outside of my state know so much about it. The comment about our educational levels I find particularly insulting. Last time I checked, Duke University, the Research Triangle Park in the Raleigh-Durham Area, and Wake Forest University are just a few examples of the cutting edge of education and development in medicine and technology that rivals any area in the U.S. The motion picture industry has expanded by droves into our state because of its beautiful variety of coastland, piedmont area and Appalachian Mountain area. On the other hand, it has been a tradition of many to insult those with a conservative viewpoint. This was the same approach taken at attacking former President George W. Bush. How limited an argument to call "stupid" those with whom you disagree. I have heard this song before. As for the comment about "why states have the right to decide whose rights get preference and who get discriminated against," I believe the a statewide vote is a much better instrument to judge the will of the people within that state than to have one particular judge "interpret" their will, which has been the case in many other arenas concerning this very issue. I will proudly vote for the amendment. I believe that if people search their conscience and experience, it is much easier to agree with the position of Billy Graham (for) than the position of President Clinton (against). I realize this comment may set off a firestorm of rebuttal. Just remember, I have said all of this with reason and no malice. I wish no ill will toward those who hold an opposite position. I have merely responded as one voice representing one side of the argument that our state will decide next Tuesday. There are other voices in my state which oppose this position. I believe they will also take some issue with being categorized as those of lower education as has been implied.

    May 6, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  15. Hammerer

    Clinton is a great spokesman for marriage commitments.

    May 6, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  16. Jimmy

    The Southeastern states can make their laws to discriminate and add it to their constitution's if they choose. Laws are made... and laws can be reversed.

    May 6, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  17. Jimmy

    The entire southeast will can be hateful and out of tune with the rest of the country, They will be shocked when the tables turn against them.

    May 6, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  18. Dr. Rick Stoppe

    The medical evidence is solid. Men do not choose to be gay. It happens in the very first days of gestation and is a natural part of human development. It is time in America to rig ourselves of this ancient prejudice. Further, with so many states and our bordering countries accepting same sex marriages, it is insanity as well as bigotry to fight this humane issue.

    May 6, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  19. Brian Dodge

    Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution – states within the United States have to respect the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state." North Carolina can't refuse to honor marriages performed in other states any more than they can disallow any other legal contract. They are prohibited from make any law "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" regarding the religious practice of marriage by the First and Fourteenth amendments. NC can't refuse to honor a gay marriage performed in Massachusetts, on civil or religious grounds, any more than they can refuse to recognize a marriage between a Catholic and a Jew performed in California, or a divorce granted in Nevada.

    May 6, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  20. hamsta

    regardless of what clinton says its just wrong for a man to play housewife and to allow traffic to come the wrong way in a one way street.

    May 6, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  21. Ray E. (Georgia)

    To have Bill Clinton doing a robo call. Now you haven't lived until you have heard Bill Clinton doing a Robo Call. The U.S. Constutition already allows Same-Sex Marriages so this Law would be declared Unconstutitional if it passed.

    May 6, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  22. JT

    I'm not really sure why they have elections on this matter, the courts just move in later and strike the decision down.

    May 6, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  23. Larry L

    I'm in favor of everybody having contracts of "marriage" to obligate and enable the partner towards their financial, legal, and contractual obligations as a couple – including taxation and inheritance regulations. This would be a legal action and wouldn't relate to a religious or cultural ceremony. It would stick to the business of the government and leave the religious aspects to the church. The government would be obligated to allow the "marriage" if the people comply with the legal stipulations – possibly just related to age rather than gender. Churches would be allowed to refuse performing a religious marriage ceremony to anybody they choose to reject. The government would not require or even acknowledge the religious ceremony. This would clearly seperate church and state and finally end the argument. Why is this unfair?

    May 6, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  24. Mary

    This is so awful. That boy at Rutger's college killed himself over the hatred and bigotry aimed at gay people. Why can't we just accept people for who they are and not make laws demonizing them?

    May 6, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  25. Tyler Durden

    "Download a poster that has my face on it." Isn't that a violation of one of those false idol rules in that book they always thump??

    May 6, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
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