Wake board backs gay-marriage ban

tgoldsmith@newsobserver.comFebruary 21, 2012 

— Wake County commissioners on Monday endorsed Amendment One, the proposed change in the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage.

The vote came along party lines, with Republicans Paul Coble, Tony Gurley, Phil Matthews and Joe Bryan supporting the motion and Democrats Erv Portman, James West and Betty Lou Ward opposing it.

"How does the county board get off on telling the citizens of Wake County how they should vote?" Portman asked. "Is that not heavy handed? Is that not arrogant?"

Coble pointed out that the resolution called for the board to endorse the amendment, not for voters to support it.

Same-sex marriage is already illegal in North Carolina, but supporters of the amendment say it will prevent judges from overturning that law.

Amendment One will appear on a statewide ballot in May.

Opponents of the amendment dominated the public comment period.

"Constitutional amendments constitute generational warfare," said Tracy Hollister, who identified herself as a lesbian and a taxpayer. "People under 30 don't have an issue as much. The country is moving beyond it. North Carolina needs to move in that same direction."

Tami Fitzgerald, speaking on behalf of Support Marriage NC, was the lone speaker in favor of the gay marriage ban.

The 20 speakers against the motion cited their rights as individuals, possible loss of new business to the Triangle and inappropriate intrusion into private matters as reason to reject the endorsement of the ballot item.

"I just think we are focusing on the wrong thing," West said. "I think we are kind of out of step and out of touch to some degree when it comes to protecting civil rights and civil liberties."

Goldsmith: 919-829-8929

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