RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina voters on Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman.
With votes still being counted, support for the amendment was overwhelming -- with 1,060,784 million voting for it, compared to 665,478 voting against, the Raleigh News Observer reported.
The amendment has driven record turnout for early voting, surpassing even the 2008 presidential primary in the state, when Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton, The Wall Street Journal reported.
North Carolina joins some 30 states to approve a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, but polls show the national mood softening on the issue.
The Tarheel State already prohibits gay marriage in a statute, but amendment backers say it is important to enshrine the ban in the Constitution, to make it harder for a judge or future legislature to overturn.
Republicans took over the General Assembly in 2010 and approved putting an amendment on the ballot, at the urging of social conservatives.
North Carolina GOP chairman Robin Hayes released a statement Tuesday night, saying the amendment was passed by supporters of all political denominations.
"[Tuesday] citizens across the state of North Carolina voted to define marriage in our constitution. Passing this Amendment required support from Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters," Hayes said.
"This is a defining day for traditional values in North Carolina, and I'm proud to have voted for protecting marriage."
The amendment has dominated social and traditional media in North Carolina, the Journal reported. Aging evangelist Billy Graham signed a letter of support that appeared in major newspapers statewide this weekend. Former President Bill Clinton recorded a robocall urging people to vote no, saying the amendment would hurt the state's reputation as a welcoming place for business.
North Carolina is the last Southern state to consider such an amendment, according to Human Rights Campaign, a pro-gay-rights group. Earlier ballot measures in 11 other Southern states passed with average support of 75 percent, the group says.
EDITOR's NOTE: Minnesotans United for All Families released the following statement Tuesday after the vote in North Carolina:
"This fall, Minnesotans will take up a similar Constitutional Amendment. We are continuing the conversations we're having with our friends, family and neighbors about what marriage means. While North Carolina's conversation was just a few short months, we have the benefit of time on our side and are taking that conversation to every corner of this state. The momentum to defeat this amendment continues to build, and we are as confident as ever that Minnesota will say no to limiting the freedom to marry."