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Religious Group To Speak Out In Support Of Same-Sex Marriage

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Religious leaders who support same-sex marriage are trying to get the attention of lawmakers. They have scheduled a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the state legislative building.

The North Carolina Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality has a signed statement that says same-sex couples deserve the rights and protections of civil marriage.

In the past few months, some groups and communities have decided to send this message.

The town council in Chapel Hill and the Carrboro Board of Aldermen have gone on the record.

In April, both boards made a statement in support of repealing a state law that bans the recognition of same-sex marriages.

Chapel Hill town councilman Mark Kleinschmidt says he knows there may not be enough support for gay marriage in the General Assembly, but he said last month that it is important for Chapel Hill to be on the record.

"I suspect it won't come up in committee, that's fine," he said. " What Chapel Hill is saying is that it's our policy that we desire to treat all married people the same."

"It's a spiteful law and it forces us as a town to discriminate against certain people," Carrboro Alderman Mark Chilton said.

State lawmakers who oppose recognizing gay marriage feel the current law will stand. And they don't feel a push to change it will get much attention in the General Assembly.

"I'm opposed to it," said Rep. John Sauls, R-Lee County. "I believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. We stand by the law on our books now."

"I'm opposed to that. It's a disaster for children. I don't think there's any support for that here. It's something that's going on in Orange and Durham County," said Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake County.

A Durham same-sex couple sued over the right to get a marriage license. Monday, a judge dismissed the suit saying that issues of constitutional magnitude belong in a higher court.

The group meets at the legislature at 2 p.m.