$4 million would feed a lot of poor people. Or help fund affordable housing, health care centers, after school programs—all things that contribute to the public good.

But no, two years ago, $4 million in private money was raised to either defend or fight Amendment One, the passage of which defined marriage between a man and a woman and codified discrimination against gays and lesbians in the state constitution.

The anti-same-sex marriage crowd—including the North Carolina Values Coalition, led by Tami Fitzgerald, mother-in-law of state Senate candidate Chad Barefoot, who shares her conservative views—raised $1.5 million to successfully pass Amendment One. Other big donations came from churches, including the Catholic diocese of Raleigh ($51,000) and Charlotte (another $50,000) and the First Baptist Church ($56,500).

Pro same-sex marriage groups—the Human Rights Campaign ($256,000) and Blueprint NC ($104,000) among them, raised $2.5 million to unsuccessfully defeat it.

Today the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review lower court decisions that struck down gay marriage bans, meaning that same-sex marriage will become legal in 30 states where those rulings had occurred, including North Carolina.

North Carolina is in the Fourth Circuit, based in Virginia, which struck down bans on gay marriage.

Conservative state lawmakers didn’t have to put Amendment One to a referendum; it was utterly unnecessary because gay marriage was already illegal in North Carolina and needed no fine point put on it. (And the GOP will deny a public vote if the party thinks it will lose: Exhibit A: Republican Wake County Commissioners won’t even put mass transit to a referendum.)

The goal of Amendment One was to punish gays and lesbians and their allies; toss red meat to GOP constituencies and to lord religious dogma over the entire state of North Carolina. On that point, the bigots succeeded.

Perhaps the pro-gay marriage groups enlightened a few people, but ultimately the Amendment One damaged North Carolina, its people, its reputation. Now that Amendment One is coming undone, the pro-gay marriage groups have been vindicated. So, I asked the conservatives: the effort, the animosity, the divisions, the $1.5 million: Was it worth it?