"The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples," French said. "He believes the North Carolina measure singles out and discriminates against committed gay and lesbian couples, which is why he did not support it."
North Carolina is the 30th state to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Six states — all in the Northeast except Iowa — and the District of Columbia allow same sex marriages. In addition, two other states have laws that are not yet in effect and may be subject to referendums.
Both sides said the hard-fought battle had brought new voters who will be active in other issues.
"I think we've built a huge coalition across North Carolina of people who believe godly values," said Tami Fitzgerald, head of the pro-amendment group, Vote FOR Marriage NC. "And I believe that speaks well for people in our state who have somewhat been a silent majority in the past and I think you can expect them to be very active in the future, especially when they see the impact of their grassroots efforts."
But even the state House Speaker, who supported the amendment, expressed reservations about how long it would survive. Speaker Thom Tillis said he expects the amendment to be reversed within 20 years as today's young adults age.
While legislators can easily undo a state law, it's much harder to reverse a constitutional amendment, Dinan said. The latter requires a three-fifths vote in both legislative houses, then voter approval.
"One can't rule that out," he said. "But it's become more difficult to make that change now."
The campaign manager for the group that opposed the amendment said the nation watched North Carolina on Tuesday night, wondering how the anti-forces came through.
"I am happy to say that we are stronger for it; we are better for it; our voices are louder now," said Jeremy Kennedy of Protect All NC Families. "We have courage like we never had before, and we have strength to continue on. We said all along in this campaign that when we wake up on the day after Election Day that we want to be able to say that we left no stone unturned, that we left nothing on the table."
And their fight will continue. On Wednesday, same-sex couples will ask for marriage licenses in Wilson and Durham, the start of a week-long campaign called "We Do" protesting their inability to wed.
Associated Press writer Allen Reed contributed to this report.
Martha Waggoner can be reached at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc .