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House GOP Leaders Press NC Gay Marriage Amendment

Do you oppose or support gay marriage?

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Posted: 10:44 am EDT August 30, 2011
Updated: 3:22 pm EDT August 30, 2011

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina House Republican leaders on Tuesday dismissed arguments that putting a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage on next year's ballot runs counter to changing attitudes on same-sex relationships and would discourage corporate expansion.

The Legislature is slated to return Sept. 12 to take up several proposed changes to the state constitution. A gay marriage ban amendment leads the list for conservative lawmakers who have sought the change for a decade, only to be blocked by Democratic leaders. They'll get their chance now, after Republicans took control of the Legislature in January.

The question would go before voters next year if three-fifths of the members in the House and the Senate agree for it to go on the ballot. That would require support from a handful of legislative Democrats. North Carolina is the only Southeastern state that hasn't approved such a ban.

"We need to put the decision to the people so that they can define what marriage is, and not us," Speaker Pro Tempore Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, said at a news conference. "Why shouldn't the people of North Carolina have the right to vote on something as important as this issue?"

State law already defines a valid marriage as one "created by the consent of a male and female person," and a 1996 state law says same-sex marriages sanctioned in other states are invalid in North Carolina. House Majority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, said etching the ban in the constitution would protect the law from legal challenges.

Stam said the issue became even more crucial last month when New York became the sixth state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Stam said couples are now more likely to come to North Carolina and challenge the 1996 law in court.

"It has become a practical problem," Stam said, pointing out that President Obama has directed federal lawyers not to defend the federal law that prevents any state from recognizing any other state's same-sex marriages. "We need to do what we can to defend our own statute."

Alex Miller with the gay rights group Equality North Carolina says it's shameful for lawmakers to put a question on the ballot designed to damage the rights of a few people.

"Part of the desperation on the part of the sponsors of this amendment is that they see support for this kind of measure eroding fast," Miller said after the news conference.

An Elon University Poll in February found more than half of North Carolina residents supported some form of legal recognition of same-sex couples.

Gay marriage opponents, however, point to surveys showing more than 70 percent like the amendment, and Folwell said a strong cross-section of the public supports the idea.

Miller and others argue the marriage ban amendment would discourage businesses from expanding in North Carolina because the state would be perceived as unfriendly to gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered people.

A Senate proposal for the amendment could undermine employee programs that provide health care and other benefits for same-sex partners of workers, amendment opponents have said. But Stam and Folwell disagreed.

"There's nothing in this amendment that would prohibit private employers from recognizing non-marital relationships," Stam said.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Original Article - http://www.wsoctv.com/news/29025964/detail.html


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2 Just legalize gay marriage! on Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:11 am

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The liberal side of me thinks this is a ridiculous issue, and we have more important and urgent matters we should focus on. Also, I don't think this should be left to our representatives to decide, but should be voted by all NC residents on a ballot.

Honestly, I feel that the gay marriage debate is very ridiculous. I don't see any point banning it, because eventually, sometime in the future, that amendment will be repealed. Just make it legal, and be done with it. Eventually, the fundamentalists will forget about it as they always do, and move onto a new ridiculous issue. The only reason I feel that people should vote on it is a futile attempt to make everyone happy. No matter what's decided, you're pissing on someone's cornflakes.

Gay marriages would only affect the government's tax revenue since married gay couples would receive the same tax benefits as heterosexual married couples. Outside of that, legalizing gay marriages would have no other effect on either government or on society. No one would force ministers/preachers/priests to marry gay couples in the same way no one forces them to marry non-Christian couples.


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