Bill Clinton to urge NC voters to vote against marriage amendment

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Bill Clinton (AP file photo)

RALEIGH, N.C. — Hundreds of thousands of North Carolina voters will hear Bill Clinton on their phones Monday, urging them to vote against Amendment One.

If passed, the amendment would change the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions. Gay marriage is already illegal in North Carolina.

Clinton tells voters that the amendment won’t change who can marry in North Carolina because state law already prohibits gay marriage.

“What will change is North Carolina’s ability to keep good businesses, attract new jobs, and attract and keep talented entrepreneurs. If it passes, your ability to keep those businesses, get those jobs, and get those talented entrepreneurs will be weakened,” Clinton says in the ad.

The amendment would take away health insurance from children, he says, and could affect laws against domestic violence.

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

Opponents say the amendment will mean that the eight localities that provide domestic partner benefits will have to eliminate that benefit. They also say the amendment could diminish domestic violence laws, which protect people who live together. Supporters say that’s wrong and that the opponents are misleading the public.

Elected officials in North Carolina reached out to Clinton and asked for his help, said Jeremy Kennedy, campaign manager for Protect All NC Families, the coalition of groups that oppose the amendment. Clinton is “still very, very respected among Democrats and for his humanitarian work since he left office,” Kennedy said.

The robo calls with the ad will go to hundreds of thousands of people, focusing on likely opponents of the amendment and people who don’t vote regularly. The latter is because some polls show that a majority of North Carolinians opposes the amendment but a majority of likely voters supports it.

Early voting shows “this electorate is anything but likely,” Kennedy said. Some have never voted in a primary or only in one primary, he said.

Clinton isn’t the first president to oppose the amendment — President Obama also said he’s against it.

The pro-amendment side also has its share of heavy hitters supporting it. The Rev. Billy Graham, the 93-year-old evangelist, issued a statement supporting the amendment, saying the Bible is clear that God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.

Graham’s complete statement about the amendment is part of full-page ads appearing in 14 North Carolina newspapers throughout the weekend.

North Carolina already outlaws gay marriage, but adding that ban to the state constitution would make it much harder to change in the future. Opponents to the amendment argue the language is vague and it could have wider consequences beyond those for gay couples.