The NC Council of Churches, working in conjunction with the Coalition to Protect ALL NC Families, has developed a toolkit to help people of faith working against Amendment One. If passed in May, this amendment to the state’s constitution would define marriage in a way that excludes gays and lesbians and that severely limits benefits and rights to same-gender and opposite-gender couples who are not married. The toolkit is here.
The Council’s Board adopted a policy statement in 2004, shortly after then-President Bush put the issue on the front burner by announcing his intention to see a so-called “marriage amendment” added to the US Constitution. Our statement was brief and focused – we were opposed to marriage amendments at either the state or national level because they enshrined discrimination in our foundational documents, documents which have historically been used to give rights, not to take them away. You can read the entire statement here. Our Board, after nearly two hours of very respectful debate, adopted the statement with no dissenting votes.
We know that some people of faith, including some associated with the NC Council of Churches, have taken the opposite position. In fact, shortly after our Board took its position, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to support marriage amendments. This puts the Council in the unusual position of having taken a position diametrically opposed to that of two of our member judicatories, the Dioceses of Raleigh and Charlotte. But this also provides a much-needed reminder that there are principled people of faith on the other side of this issue, just as there are on most issues. We plan to act respectfully towards those who disagree with us on this issue, just as I hope we do on all of the controversial issues with deal with.
Having said that, it is crucially important that people of faith who oppose the marriage amendment go to the polls on May 8 and vote against it. You might do it because you agree with the Council that this is discrimination that doesn’t belong in the constitution. (For a powerful statement of that position, see the letter from Rev. William Barber, pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church inGoldsboro and president of the NC NAACP.) Or you might do it because you think gays and lesbians should have the right to marry. Or because you are concerned about children of unmarried couples, straight or gay, who could lose health care benefits. Or because it could scare off businesses looking at relocating to NC.
Regardless, our toolkit will tell you what you need to know to register, to vote, and to engage others in this campaign.
–George Reed, Executive Director