05/01/05 — Wayne Republicans seek marriage rule

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Wayne Republicans seek marriage rule

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 1, 2005 2:02 AM

The Wayne County Republican Party announced Friday it will take steps to ensure marriage in North Carolina remains a commitment between a man and a woman.

Party officials plan to ask the county Board of Commissioners this week to support an amendment to the state Constitution that would not recognize same-sex unions as marriages.

Ed Wharton, the chairman of the county party, said recent court decisions have led to the disqualification of state marriage statutes across the U.S.

Senate Bill S-8 and its companion bill, H-55, will die in committee, Wharton said, if legislators do not understand the seriousness of the situation and the desire of voters across the state to keep the traditional legal definition of marriage.

"We are asking our county commissioners to adopt a resolution that strongly urges our representatives in Raleigh to act on behalf of the citizens of Wayne County," Wharton said.

The two bills, which were introduced early in the current session, define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

If the bills become law, voters will have a chance to vote on the proposed constitutional amendment in November. If approved, it would become law in January.

Wharton said the marriage question is a bipartisan issue. Many Democrats agree with the need to define marriage as the traditional union of a man and a woman, he said.

"While the Wayne County Republican Party is taking the lead in bringing this issue to the county board, it is not a political issue," Wharton said. "The citizens of Wayne County, regardless of their political party affiliation, expect our board to take any action necessary to protect our family values."

Wharton said the N.C. Family Policy Council and the Christian Action League will hold a pro-marriage rally May 10 at the Halifax Mall in the Legislative Complex on Jones Street in Raleigh to support the amendment.

State Rep. Louis Pate of Mount Olive, a Republican, said the bills are in trouble and need support from local groups if they are to survive the legislative process and reach a public vote.

Pate said he has heard from residents on both sides of the issue, but said most of those people who contacted him are "highly in favor" of the measure.

"I'd love to see the bill pass," said Pate, who was one of the many co-sponsors of the bill in the House. "I think we do need to reiterate that."

He said the measure is important because if a same-gender couple married in another state comes to North Carolina, a law approved several years would force the state to recognize the union as a legal marriage.