Local Politics

Family Values Rally Brings Throngs to Raleigh

Posted March 6, 2007 12:53 p.m. EST
Updated March 6, 2007 10:00 p.m. EST

— Hundreds of people rallied outside the General Assembly Tuesday in support of what they called "family values legislation."

Churches across the state bused people to Raleigh to attend the rally, which coincided with the introduction of defense-of-marriage bills in the Senate and House.

State Capitol Police estimated the size of the crowd at 10,000, and they filled about half of Halifax Mall, a lawn area north of the  Legislative Building.

The rally was sponsored by Return America, a Wallburg-based group that opposes abortion, gay marriage and gambling.

Sens. Fred Smith, R-Johnston, and Jim Forrester, R-Gaston, spoke at the rally shortly after announcing the filing of Senate Bill 13, which they said strengthens anti-gay legislation already on the books in North Carolina.

Marriage is already defined in the state as being between a man and a woman. The bill would amend the state constitution to include the definition so that judges or future legislators couldn't overturn it.

"(The bill) does not take any rights that anyone has today away. It does not discriminate against anyone in any shape, form or fashion," Smith said at a press conference.

Smith and Forrester have introduced similar legislation twice before, but Democratic leaders in the Senate routed the bill through a committee that hasn't met in six years.

"That was a place to put the bill for it to die," Forrester said.

House Bill 493, a companion bill, was expected to be introduced later Tuesday, but the parallel pieces of legislation already have generated opposition.

"I'm against what I see as writing discrimination into the constitution," said Sen. Janet Cowell, D-Wake.

Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight said through a spokesman that current laws defining marriage are adequate, and the state doesn't need new legislation on the issue.

House Speaker Joe Hackney wouldn't commit when asked if he thought the bill would come up for vote on the House floor.