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Same-sex marriage debate resurfaces in N.C.

Posted February 24, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— North Carolina lawmakers and religious leaders spoke out Tuesday in support of an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as a union of a man and woman.

Monday, Republican lawmakers filed on Senate Bill 272, "Defense of Marriage," which, if passed, would place the amendment on the November ballot as a referendum for voters to decide. House GOP leaders plan to file their version of the bill later this week.

Same-sex marriage Same-sex marriage debate resurfaces in N.C.

Previous versions of the bill have failed to move forward in the Legislature. Thirty states, including all other Southern states, have passed a similar amendment.

"We are sponsoring this legislation because we firmly believe that North Carolina's marriage laws are at risk of being redefined by activist courts to include same-sex couples," Sen. Jim Forrester, R-Gaston, said.

"At any moment, a lawsuit challenging our marriage laws could be filed by a same-sex couple from our state that obtained a marriage license in a state where same-sex marriage is legal," Forrester said.

Supporters say voters have been denied the opportunity to vote, and they cite a poll by the John W. Pope Civitas Institute, a conservative public policy advocate, that shows 76 percent of those surveyed support the amendment.

Opponents say they believe the bill would violate the rights of homosexuals.

"This would go beyond just putting it in the constitution," said Ian Palmquist, director of the gay rights advocacy group Equality North Carolina. "It would actually prevent any sort of recognition, domestic partnership, health benefits through private employers and really, any sort of rights or protection for same sex couples."

"We have a gay son, and there should be equal rights for anybody, and I feel that with all my heart," said George McKee, with Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays. "He did not choose to be gay."

Forty-one state have laws defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. Thirty states took it to voters and passed constitutional amendments.

The only time an amendment has been defeated was in Arizona in 2006, but when it hit the ballot again two years later, it passed.

Only Massachusetts and Connecticut allow gay marriage, while Vermont, New Jersey and New Hampshire allow civil unions.

Californians voted in November to overturn a court ruling that allowed gay marriage, but the state still offers domestic partnerships that guarantee the same rights as marriage.

217 Comments

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  • cerebrate Mar 16, 4:05 p.m.

    Many of you want to vote because you know you will win. It is clear from your posts that you have no heart for those that are not like you. Of course, the passing of this bill would come as no surprise to any member of the GLBT community. No surprise, but great disappointment in NC's citizens.

    Now, why are we GLBT North Carolinians opposed to a vote?

    For the answer, reference "Federalist 10" by James Madison. Since few of you will take the time to look it up, I'll give you snippet (slightly edited due to limited characters).

    "When a majority is a faction, the form of popular government, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion..the rights of other citizens. To secure..private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries [the Founders] are directed."

    In our republic, you have no right to vote away the rights of others. The Founders set it up that way.

  • SnakeLady Feb 27, 2:54 p.m.

    It makes me sad that my home state is considering making hate & bigotry an actual state law. :(

    As if we heterosexuals have done such a great job with marriage (with 50% divorce rate and spousal murders). I know plenty of gay couples who have been together AND faithful for longer than many of my straight friends have been married.

    We should be promoting love, not hate.

    If you don't like gay marriage, then don't sent a wedding present....

    BTW, I've received an email from a friend, forwarded from a group called Called2Action, that says "Let's start with a loud SHOUT by blowing the WRAL poll out of the water! Visit the link here and cast your vote for marriage!" (Yeah, they're trying to skew the results, and it looks like they're doing a really good job of it).

    My poor ignorant friend should have KNOWN that I wouldn't support at group. However, it looks like she simply forwarded the email to every single person on her address list, without thinking. :-/

  • ncala2 Feb 27, 1:39 p.m.

    Way to go, NC! Now we look just like Mississippi and Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota! Let's hear it for bigoted redneck know-nothings willing to subjugate the rest of the state/country to their own flawed interpretations of "Christian" beliefs. This will destroy whatever reputation NC has for being better educated and more enlightened than the rest of the South.

  • bigmelons2004 Feb 27, 9:47 a.m.

    Now you know some of you have experimented with things in your life. I think it is more common with women and women experimenting. Sometimes you try things and you don't like them. Sometimes you do. Dang, I think you see more women with women on those late night movies than you do men with women. So I have been told.

  • Gucci Hippy Piggy Feb 27, 9:26 a.m.

    I don't know, Haggis. There are a LOT of homophobic people in this country. Rights for gays have been gained, but not nearly enough. Thankfully, I'm seeing the younger people being way more open and less judgemental. Like most issues, it's the young who will stop the madness.

  • haggis basher Feb 27, 9:16 a.m.

    "there's a whole load of practical questions for you..."

    And the answer is clearly no in every case. Freedom of religion means that churches can choose what they believe and how they worship. Religion has nothing to do with the Civil right to get married. If a church want to add some mumbo jumbo service as well thats up to them. There is a lot of money to be made out of all these new folks getting married, the churches will want their cut of that so quite a few will be adjusting their "faith" when gay marriage is legal (and it will be, sooner or later)

  • Gucci Hippy Piggy Feb 27, 9:16 a.m.

    Tired, while I don't agree that the Democrats are sending this country down the tubes, I do agree that we have bigger fish to fry than legislating morality.

    I have wonderful gay friends, and they love their partners just as much as I love my boyfriend. It's no different. They should be entitled to the same rights and benefits I have. It's very sad when my gay friends tell me that if their loved one was ill in the hospital, they don't have the legal right to be there. His or her family could make them leave.

    To all the anti-marriage people, imagine if your husband or wife was ill, and you could not be there to support them. Imagine not having a right to raise the child one of you had and you love as your own. Imagine not being able to be on your spouse's health insurance.

    Then tell me how giving them rights in ANY way kills marriage. Why does it need "defending?"

  • tiredofgovtwaste Feb 27, 7:59 a.m.

    Who cares? This nation and state has far worse problems than to spend the time, money and energy on deciding who should marry who. We have an economy that the democrats are continuing to push down the tube, we have illegal’s taking over and homeless and poverty stricken children who we need to be worrying over and not this. Let it go. As long as its not you and putting a burden on you, then why should you care. We have enough hate in the world, so why not let two people who love each other be together legally?

  • braddyg Feb 26, 10:57 a.m.

    Here's the problem: if you acknowledge gay "marriage," then what happens when a gay couple wants to get married in a church that doesn't approve of their lifestyle? If the pastor/priest refuses, will the church be sued? Will churches be expected to perform ceremonies for any couple, regardless of gender? If they don't, will they lose tax-free status? If you want to take the morality aspect out of it, there's a whole load of practical questions for you...

  • sushiblues Feb 25, 9:56 p.m.

    I have a solution. Let's get the term "marriage" totally out of the government and call them all "civil unions" in the government's eyes (straight or gay). That way, we can let the churches/synagogues and other places of worship decide if they would sanction gay or lesbian marriage as a "religious ritual."

    Now, isn't that a simple solution! Then the government would be installing equal rights with regards to property/wills/hospital visitation, etc. on all those who have a NC government issued "civil unions."

    I think this would level the playing field - the government then wouldn't need to define marriage at all!

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