RALEIGH, May 8, 2012 ( – North Carolina voters are weighing a new state constitutional amendment today that would reserve the rights of marriage to a man and woman in a committed relationship. The bill would not only strike a preemptive blow against same-sex “marriage,” but would further strengthen marriage by ending heterosexual domestic partnerships.

Amendment One, which appears on Tuesday’s primary ballot, states: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

A Public Policy Polling survey last week found North Carolina voters supporting the amendment 51-44 percent.  Even Democrats in the state oppose the measure by a relatively low margin, 54 percent.

Opponents have nonetheless outspent supporters of the amendment about two-to-one, with the opposition, Coalition to Protect N.C. Families (CPNCF), reporting $2.2 million in the last period, as Vote for Marriage N.C., reported $1.2 million, according to the Washington Post last week.

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Gay rights activists blasted the language as “anti-gay” for pre-emptively banning marriage between persons of the same sex, and thereby harming the economy.

“To see our state go backwards and enshrine bigotry and hatred and prejudice would be very sad, it would be a very sad day …[and] for the first time, I would give very serious consideration to living somewhere else and taking that economic impact somewhere else,” said Jim Hock, a state business owner prominently quoted by CPNCF in its literature. The group also cited a Charlotte Observer editorial concluding that defining marriage as between a man and a woman would “contribute to a climate of hostility toward homosexuals.”

Opponents also attack Amendment One by saying it could take away legal protections against violence in unmarried partnerships, citing attempts in Ohio to throw out domestic violence suits following the passage of that state’s similar amendment in 2004.

Supporters of the amendment argue, however, that Ohio’s case was anomalous – its high court eventually ruled to uphold domestic violence protections in unmarried relationships – and that battery is against the law in any case.

“Domestic violence is a crime, whether there is a recognized marriage-like relationship or not,” said amendment supporter Rep. Paul Stam.

Lending his voice to a robo-call against the amendment was former President Bill Clinton, who also said the marriage definition would harm the state’s economy.

President Obama, whose “evolving” marriage stance came under tougher scrutiny this week after his Education secretary said he supported changing its definition, cancelled a brief campaign stop in North Carolina scheduled for Tuesday.

North Carolina, via state statute, is already one of 39 states that defines marriage as between a man and a woman either constitutionally or in state law.