RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday defining marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman, making it the 30th state to adopt such a ban.
With 35 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial returns showed the amendment passing with about 58 percent of the vote to 42 percent against.
In the final days before the vote, members of President Barack Obama's cabinet expressed support for gay marriage and former President Bill Clinton recorded phone messages urging voters to reject the amendment. Opponents also held marches, ran TV ads and gave speeches, including one by Jay Bakker, son of televangelists Jim Bakker and the late Tammy Faye Bakker.
Meanwhile, supporters had run their own ad campaigns and church leaders urged Sunday congregations to vote for the amendment. The Rev. Billy Graham, who at 93 remains influential even though his last crusade was in 2005, was featured in full-page newspaper ads supporting the amendment.
North Carolina law already bans gay marriage, like nine other states, but an amendment would effectively slam the door shut on same-sex marriages. The amendment also goes beyond state law by voiding other types of domestic unions from carrying legal status, which opponents warn could disrupt protection orders for unmarried couples.
Six states, all in the Northeast except Iowa, and the District of Columbia allow same sex marriages.
The amendment was placed on the ballot after Republicans took over control of the state Legislature after the 2010 elections, a role they hadn't enjoyed for 140 years.