Thousands rally to back NC marriage amendment

Posted April 20, 2012

The widow of a lawmaker who was the driving force behind a gay marriage referendum on next month's ballot in North Carolina told thousands of conservative Christians it's now up to them to get people to the polls to change the state constitution.

Mary Frances Forrester and other conservative leaders asked participants at the Return America rally to work to protect the supremacy of traditional marriage from potential court challenges. Gay marriages are now granted in six states and the District of Columbia. Two more states — Maryland and Washington — have authorized them but licenses have not yet been issued.

Forrester, wife of the late Sen. Jim Forrester, asked women in the audience to recruit others to vote for the amendment leading up to the May 8 primary. The early voting period began Thursday.

"You are responsible for nine other women that you can make sure go to the polls and vote and better still vote early because this is the time and you are here 'for such a time is this,'" said Forrester, making a reference to a verse in the Book of Esther.

State Capitol Police estimated the crowd in downtown Raleigh at about 3,000, as churches and Christian schools bused in members and students to the Halifax Mall.

The Rev. Ron Baity, president of Return America and pastor of a Winston-Salem church, recalled that the group had held three previous rallies on the mall pleading with lawmakers for a referendum.

"I am grateful that the people of North Carolina on May 8 now will have the opportunity, as it should be," Baity said. "Most importantly, we are back here today to uphold the historical truth that ... God said that marriage is between one man and one woman."

Jim Forrester sought for years to persuade legislators to consider a statewide referendum, but the Legislature's Democratic majority blocked the bills. Less than two months before the senator died, the new Republican majority at the General Assembly agreed last September to put the amendment on the ballot.

The proposed constitutional amendment would identify traditional marriage as the only domestic legal union recognized by the state. State law, which already limits marriage to a man and a woman, won't change if the question fails, said Jeremy Kennedy, campaign manager of the anti-amendment Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families.

But if it passes, Kennedy says, families of all kinds — both married and unmarried — will lose health care benefits for partners and their children and domestic violence laws will be weakened. Some business leaders have said it would damage North Carolina's reputation as a progressive place to expand their workforce.

"The other side continues to say that this is a vote on marriage," Kennedy said in an interview. "That is absolutely not true."

In a separate development this week, three Campbell University law school professors released a paper saying legal benefits and protections for all unmarried couples should remain in place as "long as those couples are not treated as having a legal status resembling marriage." Other law school professors have written papers that disagree.

Friday's rally resembled a combination evangelistic crusade and outdoor concert, as a singer's renditions of "God Bless America" and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" were interspersed with preaching and explanations on the history of marriage. Rally-goers raised their hands in prayer, gave hearty "amens" and held placards supporting the amendment.

"I am very excited to get the chance to vote for the marriage amendment," said Gail Garrison, 60, a pastor's wife from Southern Pines. "We're getting so far away from the word of God ... we bring a lot of problems into our society by not sticking to those Christian values."

Dozens of pastors have also publicly opposed to the amendment, saying that it runs counter to Christian principles of justice and fairness and would harm children. Jay Bakker, the son of evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, is scheduled to headline a faith-centered rally in opposition to the amendment Sunday in Durham, which will include a march to cast early ballots.


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  • Dichotomous Apr 30, 2012

    @ wralcomments - Great point. I did not realize this requirement was written into the NC Constitution. I do view that as totally against the Federal Constitution and am surprised it hasn't been address before now. No gov't should be allowed to mandate such bias. It does not garauntee the ability to govern wisely.

  • Dichotomous Apr 30, 2012

    @rollercoaster1fan - where I think you're wrong. The Puritans came here to escape religious persecution; they didn't want The Church or any government telling them how to worship. Of course, for hundreds of years, they discriminated against any brand of religion that didn't agree with theirs...Christian or not.
    The Founding Fathers, non-thesists, wanted to provide a gov't that could not support or be controlled by ANY religion. They wanted to ensure that EVERYONE was free to worship, or not, as they saw fit. So to say that this is a "Christian" nation is not exactly correct. We are a nation that belongs to ALL religions.
    That being said, this amendment is NOT a religious issue - it is a Civil Liberties issue and should be argued and debated as such. We are not voting church doctrine or creed. We are voting on people's rights - all people who are citizens, regardless of religion or opposition to religion.

  • rollercoaster1fan Apr 27, 2012

    The whole "seperation of Church and State" phrase has been used and abused by librals but it is not in the constitution, the one time it was used was in a letter from jefferson to a Baptist group, people today are taking it completly out of context.
    The purpose of the first amendment was to keep the government from controling religion, not to take religion out of the government.
    Also it is important to know that This country was founded as a Christian country, just read some of the supreme court rulings from the 1850's. They made it clear that this country was ment to be governed by the Bible, just not limiting one 'sect' or DENOMINATION of Christianity.
    Christians and Non-Christian alike would find this reaserch nothing less that interesting. the Christians could take a stand and the heathens can just deal with living in a CHRISTIAN nation, or leave.
    God said "one man and one woman" for obvious reasons, man cannot fulfill the role of a woman and vice versa!

  • wralcomments Apr 27, 2012

    I propose we fight back by going on the attack against the religious extremists. Use the same process to propose an amendment to bring the NC Constitution into conformance with the US Constitution. The NC Constitution requires all who seek public office to believe in God. Repeal the monotheistic requirement. It is unconstitutional for government at any level, be it federal, state, county, or municipal to impose religious beliefs and limit access to government.

  • Billfisher Apr 26, 2012

    Everyone who is so outspoken about voting down this ammendment needs to thank a man and a woman for bringing them into this world.

  • deansquishman2 Apr 26, 2012

    another rally brought to you by Americans for reducing civil liberties, pursuits of happiness etc...

  • Lost and Loaded Apr 26, 2012

    It is ridiculous vanity and completely unconstitutional for this amendment to ever come up for a vote - it will never pass. People have a right to pursue happiness with whomever they choose and if they desire to make their relationship binding before law, they should be allowed to do so.

    We don't adhere to or enact law based on God's word - and no one's freedom should be impinged by a religious interpretation of the way things should be. This amendment's supporters believe just the opposite and they are wrong.

    Families can be comprised of any number of components and still be a functional mutually supporting environment or capable of being a nurturing environment for children. Any attempt to codify a definition of what a family or marriage consists of can never encompass all the possibilities. Marriage should be defined as a bond/contract between consenting adults and leave it at that.

  • signify6644 Apr 26, 2012

    "Christianity is wrong. Perhaps we should have a vote on whether to ban it." How about Islam?

  • carolinachris Apr 23, 2012

    boneymaroney13, obviously you are referring to Leviticus 18:22. This book is comprised of many laws of that time that Christians today don't follow. Eating pork and shrimp are abomination also, but plenty Christians do that. I have read the Bible many times from cover to cover, it is a great book to live by, however if you take every word literally, you truly miss the lessons from God in it.

  • nissan4life Apr 20, 2012

    boneymaroney13 I know that this admendment to the state constitution is just wrong. People need to mind there own business. Religious people annoy me.