Local News

Chapel Hill Residents Speak Out About Same-Sex Marriage

Posted March 25, 2004 5:38 a.m. EST

— An openly gay member of the Chapel Hill Town Council has been pushing for repeal of a law that does not recognize same-sex unions.

In a public hearing Wednesday night, the people of Chapel Hill had their say on the matter.

Only one person spoke out against gay marriages. Even a local pastor said gays should have the right to marry.

"All should be able to identify as marriage something that gives them compassion, love, and makes them a family," pastor Richard Edens said.

Town Council member Mark Kleinschmidt initially proposed repealing the "Defense of Marriage" act -- a state law that does not recognize legally-performed gay marriages from other states.

"I realize some people have religious and moral objections to same-sex marriage," Chapel Hill resident Stephanie Killpatrick said at Wednesday's public forum.

Kleinschmidt said that, rather than a moral argument, he has a legal one.

"People who are similarly situated should be able to be treated by government in the same way," Kleinschmidt said. "That's it.

"The goverment should not be denying services to people who are legally married. Even if we can't do it now, even if we can't provide that equal access today, I want us to be able to start a process which allows us to do it in the future."

But no matter the compulsion of the arguments, even if the issue succeeds in getting on the legislative agenda, it then will meet the scrutiny of the General Assembly-- one familiar with Chapel Hill's liberal leanings.

"I see it as dead on arrival," said Bill Cobey, candidate for governor. "if I were governor, it would be dead on arrival. I'd make sure something like this never passed.

"I view it as an assault on marriage and family. I see it as way out, and it should be offensive to people."

Cobey said most North Carolinians agree with him.

"If they pass it, will it have any consequences?" he said. "No. Because everyone knows where Chapel Hill is coming from."

The issue of same-sex unions was not just the topic of conversation in Chapel Hill. A panel discussion drew a standing-room only crowd at St. Johns Metropolitan Community Church in Raleigh.

Representatives from

Equality North Carolina

were among the panelists. They talked about what is being done to redefine national and state laws governing same-sex marriages.