By Carmen Cusid
Posted: Wednesday, May. 02, 2012
After hours of debate Tuesday night, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners voted 5-4 to adopt a resolution opposing a proposed statewide marriage amendment.
Chair Harold Cogdell and commissioners George Dunlap, Jennifer Roberts, Dumont Clark and Vilma Leake voted for the resolution. Jim Pendergraph, Neil Cooksey, Bill James and Karen Bentley voted against it.
The amendment, which defines heterosexual marriage as “the only domestic legal union,” will come before N.C. voters on the May 8 primary ballot.
The county resolution reads, in part, “since North Carolina law already defines marriage as between a man and a woman, the proposed amendment would only serve to express hostility against a minority group.”
The resolution stated, “the proposed language of Amendment One is vague and ambiguous and will thereby invite litigation that will require extensive judicial resources to be devoted to resolving these avoidable legal disputes.”
The proposed amendment would bar the state from legally recognizing marriage or civil unions between same-sex partners, as well as unmarried heterosexual couples.
Nineteen people –including residents, religious and business leaders, signed up to speak about the county’s resolution. Though some spoke in support of it, many more spoke in favor of Amendment One and against the county’s resolution.
Several people, quoting from the Bible, said their reasons for supporting traditional marriage were based on God.
Charlotte resident Karla Lowman, who has been married for 28 years, said she stood against the resolution and for traditional marriage.
“I am encouraging those that I pray with to stand for biblical values. God wants us to honor marriage,” Lowman said. “Please don’t put this before our city.”
Another speaker in favor of traditional marriage, Warren Smith, said those who support Amendment One don’t do so because they “relish this fight.”
“We feel we’re backed into a corner and formed to take this fight,” Smith said. “You could let this bully pulpit turn you into a bully. Table this motion. Let the people speak on May 8. There’s no reason to pick this up and be unnecessarily divisive.”
The Rev. Stephen Shoemaker of Myers Park Baptist Church, said he was opposed to Amendment One because it “builds discrimination into the foundational legal document of our state.”
“You could frame this debate as between one moral good, the support of traditional marriage and family, and another moral good, the extending of dignity, rights and equal protection under the law to all people,” Shoemaker said. “…The tension in the American soul is still with us: between those who would like to establish the United States as a ‘Christian nation’ operating under the rules of a dominant religious majority, and those who want our nation to be a nation ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people…’ ”
A resident in support of the county’s resolution, Morgan Rodden, said her husband had been her domestic partner before they married last year – and that he was covered by her insurance at that time. She said that while accepting the county’s resolution won’t threaten other people’s marriages, it does take away rights from others.
Speaking in favor of the resolution, commissioner George Dunlap said gay people don’t threaten him.
“If you’re worried about gay people threatening your marriage, then you have a real problem,” Dunlap said. “I wonder what would have happened had the same group (speaking tonight) been in the presence of Jesus when the woman at the well was about to be stoned and would they, too, have walked away? He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
Commissioner Bill James said “most people in America support traditional marriage.” James said he believes Amendment One will pass statewide next Tuesday.
In late April, Gaston commissioners unanimously approved a resolution showing their support for the amendment.