Raleigh, N.C., May 10, 2012 / 04:11 am (CNA).- Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh thanked North Carolina voters for passing a marriage amendment that gives constitutional protections to the definition of marriage.
“I express my sincere gratitude to the people of North Carolina who voted for marriage in the referendum completed today,” Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh said May 9.
He said that the amendment ensures that the definition of marriage as “the faithful and exclusive union of one man and one woman” is “in accord with God’s design and in keeping with the very nature of this sacred vocation.”
Unofficial returns show that North Carolina voters approved Amendment 1 by a margin of 61 to 39.
“We are thankful that the state legislature put the decision in the hands of the people, the overwhelming majority of whom made it clear that they want to maintain and protect the traditional definition of marriage,” Diocese of Raleigh spokesman Frank Morock told CNA May 9.
North Carolina law already recognized marriage as the union of a man and a woman, but supporters of Amendment 1 said constitutional protections were necessary to prevent legislative action or a judicial decision from changing marriage.
“The vote to make the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman part of the North Carolina Constitution guarantees that it will remain an essential and enduring institution of society that will not change from generation to generation,” Morlock said.
The amendment recognized marriage as “the only domestic legal union” valid in North Carolina, precluding the legislature from passing civil unions legislation. Courts have used the precedent of civil unions to overturn marriage amendments in states like California.
The pro-Amendment 1 campaign was led by the organization Vote for Marriage, which drew support from many churches. Supporters of the amendment included the 93-year-old Evangelical Christian leader Rev. Billy Graham.
Voters have passed marriage amendments in 31 other U.S. states. Nineteen states have amendments baring same-sex civil unions.
Morlock said there is a need for Catholics and other traditional marriage supporters to “remain diligent” on the issue.
“That will make it a major challenge to overcome, but one worth undertaking for the good of society.”
President Barack Obama opposed the North Carolina amendment. He publicly opposed “gay marriage” in his 2008 race for the White House, but his administration has been working to advance homosexual political causes and he previously described his position on marriage as “evolving.”
On May 9, he declared that he now supports “gay marriage.”
In North Carolina, Amendment 1 supporters received less funding than opponents.
Vote for Marriage raised more than $1 million, including $425,000 from the National Organization for Marriage.
The Coalition to Protect All N.C. Families, an amendment opponent, raised more than $2 million, including nearly $500,000 from the Human Rights Campaign, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
Morock said that the Catholic support for Amendment 1 made it clear that Church teaching upholds “the immeasurable dignity and equal worth of all persons.”
Bishop Burbidge called for prayers.
“I ask that you join me in praying that whatever divisions may have occurred during this referendum process may be healed by the grace of God and a mutual renewed commitment by all people of good will, so that we may together build a society reflective of the unity that is ours as members of God’s family,” he said.