@NCCapitol

Business, religion cited in NC gay marriage events

Posted September 6, 2011

Gay marriage debate, same-sex marriage

— Several Democratic lawmakers and black clergy took opposing viewpoints Tuesday on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in North Carolina, a sign the proposed ballot question still divides racial, partisan and religious groups days before the General Assembly meets to consider it.

State law already bans marriage between people of the same gender, but the proposed amendment would make heterosexual marriage the only "domestic legal union" that could be recognized. If approved by lawmakers, it could be on the 2012 ballot.

Democratic opponents said the idea could hurt North Carolina's ability to attract business. More companies are offering benefits to their employees' same-sex partners, but the amendment could outlaw that, they noted.

"Instead of creating an environment where we can create employment, attract entrepreneurs (and) attract talent, we're going to try to put a sign up to say, 'You are not welcome if you want to contribute to our society,'" said Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham.

Key members of the House Democratic Caucus brought along executives of North Carolina businesses for a news conference at the Legislative Building to speak against the amendment.

"If the bill sponsors get their way, we can look forward to an unnecessary, nasty and divisive public fight that will document that North Carolina is a place struggling with its future," said Andrew Spainhour, general counsel for Replacements Ltd., a Greensboro-based company that sells discontinued tableware and provides health insurance and other benefits to same-sex partners of employees.

"How can we say we take economic development seriously when we propose an anti-gay campaign that runs contrary to the employment practices of a majority of Fortune 500 companies?" Spainhour said.

Gay marriage debate crosses racial, religious lines Gay marriage debate crosses racial, religious lines

Democratic lawmakers said the measure also could overturn domestic violence protections for unmarried heterosexual couples and could even keep same-sex parents from being able to enroll their children in school.

Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, said moving forward with the amendment "sends the wrong message to North Carolinians crying out for jobs" and to North Carolina-based military service members who are gay and will be able to serve openly soon with the elimination of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Supporters of the amendment counter that states that already have prohibitions of same-sex marriage in their constitutions aren't seeing businesses leave for other states because of that issue.

Republican lawmakers say the issue is a moral one, not a political one.

Several black pastors said they don't believe same-sex marriage is a civil right. They say a constitutional amendment is needed to protect traditional marriage.

The Rev. Johnny Hunter of Cliffdale Community Church in Fayetteville said gay rights activists have offended black people by equating the efforts to support gay marriage with civil rights activities in the 1960s to remove racism from the law books.

"Blacks know what real discrimination is all about," said Hunter, referring to slavery and Jim Crow-era laws that preventing blacks from voting. "They're disrespecting ... the foot soldiers of the civil rights movement."

As symbols, Hunter held up two closed padlocks and hit them together to show they couldn't unlock each other. The same way, he said, two people of the same sex can't consummate a marriage the way God intended.

"A bad judge can nullify North Carolina's state statute," he said to cite his reasons for supporting the amendment. "No. 2, homosexuals cannot consummate their marriage, and (No. 3), it is offensive to equate an obsession with immoral, unnatural sexual behaviors with being black."

The Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, said the sponsors of the amendment bill, who are overwhelmingly Republican, are actually trying to take civil rights backward with the amendment.

"No matter our color or faith traditions, those who stand for love and justice are not about to fall for this amendment mess," Barber said in a statement released by the gay rights group Equality North Carolina.

To put it on the amendment on the ballot, three-fifths of the members in both the House and Senate would have to vote for the proposal. That would require a handful of House Democrats to join all or almost all the Republicans in the chamber.

House Minority Leader Joe Hackney said he wasn't confident he knew the outcome of any vote.

"We are optimistic, but the issue is not settled," said Hackney, D-Orange.

Democrats contend the amendment is designed to help Republicans bring out more voters during a 2012 election year that likely will include tight elections in North Carolina for the state's 15 electoral votes for president and for governor.

Supporters and opponents of the gay marriage amendment also announced rallies next week in Raleigh. The North Carolina Values Coalition scheduled a rally Monday, while Equality NC planned an event the next day featuring country music singer Chely Wright, who this summer married her same-sex partner.

190 Comments

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  • Follow_The_Money27617 Sep 7, 7:48 p.m.

    I'm glad I don't need a piece of paper from the government showing my partner I'm committed to her. Keep your tax break.

  • MrPearce Sep 7, 6:31 p.m.

    @boneymaroney13

    Grow a spine? These people are going to do what they are going to do anyway, whether you or I approve it or not. Let them have their "title" of marriage. Doesn't mean I acknowledge it in my personal interactions.

    Let me ask you this: how does a "married" homosexual couple affect your day to day living? Are you afraid of the conversation that you may have to have with your children? You could use that time to tell them what you believe a marriage should be.

    Note that I even said I found it uncomfortable to see homosexual couples. In the end, considering, it affects me in no other way, other than an internal aversion to the idea itself.

    It's not like having homosexual couples is going to spawn more homosexual couples. Seeing another couple being homosexual will not turn your children into homosexuals. They may choose to "come out", but all it really means is that they are homosexual, they just may or may not allow the world to see their true preferences.

  • soyousay Sep 7, 11:00 a.m.

    what.. actually believe we agree. Government should not get involved

    It must be snowing outside- what is for rescinding the ant-gay marriage ban

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Sep 7, 10:37 a.m.

    How does creating new laws to restrict the personal freedoms of tax-paying citizens in any way shape or form represent "less government"?

    Can you Conservatives see how you look like hypocrites when you do things like this? Can you tell us why you are NOT hypocrites?

    Can you give us an example of a government law that is MORE intrusive than regulating who someone can love and marry?

  • Thhhbbbppppttt..... Sep 7, 10:21 a.m.

    Church...........State.......... Let's keep them separated. It seems to me like someone has had this idea before. For good reason. per Thhhbbbppppttt....

    ---------------------------

    Try reading your Consistution and Bill of Rights...it says nothing about keeping "Church" and "State" separate! Per Affirmative diversity.

    ____________________________________________________________

    I don't recall saying it was in the bill of rights. I recall saying I've heard it before..... From a man named Thomas Jefferson....Who helped to write a little thing called the Declaration of Independance.

    Jefferson's metaphor of a wall of separation has been cited repeatedly by the U.S. Supreme Court. In its 1879 Reynolds v. United States decision, the court allowed that Jefferson's comments "may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the [First] Amendment."

    Oh wait....Isn't the first amendment part of the Bill of Rights? Thanks for helping me prove my point.

  • soyousay Sep 7, 10:16 a.m.

    oh what, the irony of it all...

    your stance is indeed for government involvement because of the whole man-women thing (for the children) you espouse that would prevent it..there whould be no government ruel, law or statute...or silly right wingnut amendent

  • Nope Sep 7, 10:16 a.m.

    " Government should not get involved in it. If they want to get married...then get married. Why should government sanction a gay marriage???"

    You apparently do not understand how marriage works. You are not legally married (which is what is being discussed) until you have a marriage license issued by the government. How do you expect them to be married otherwise?

  • newsmonkey Sep 7, 10:12 a.m.

    Same-sex marriage is legally recognized in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden, and Mexico City conducts civil unions. It's been legal in Canada and the Netherlands, Belgium and Canada for several years, and somehow those countries (and the male/female marriages within them) have managed not to fall apart. What's the big deal? If you don't want to marry someone of the same sex, then don't. "Small-government" Republicans need to stop being hypocrites.

  • scot30 Sep 7, 10:06 a.m.

    All you people who keep spouting procreation as a reason to ban gay marriage need to come up with a better excuse for your wanting gay marriage banned. Banning gay marriage isn't going to cause more babies to be born, and allowing gay marriage isn't going to cause less babies to be born. Whether it were to be banned or allowed, there's still going to be the same number of straight people and those straight people are still going to have the same number of babies...so your procreation argument is nothing but a bunch of bull. All states should make civil unions available for EVERYONE, gay or straight, which gives EVERYONE the EXACT SAME rights and privileges (legal, taxes, etc)...and then if the straight people want to go to a church and have their little religious wedding and get "married", let them go do it.

  • whatusay Sep 7, 9:59 a.m.

    soyousay... I actually believe we agree. Government should not get involved.

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