05/18/05 — Commissioners to urge legislators to back bills on traditional marriage

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Commissioners to urge legislators to back bills on traditional marriage

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on May 18, 2005 1:45 PM

Wayne County commissioners decided Tuesday to ask state legislators to take action on bills supporting traditional marriage, but stopped short of specifying what the action should be.

The Wayne County Republican Party submitted a resolution to the board last week in support of traditional marriage, saying the request was not politically motivated, but dealt with an issue that was of concern to both parties.

Traditional marriage was defined in the resolution as being between one man and one woman, at one time.

Commissioner Efton Sager made a motion to support the resolution, but no one else spoke in favor of supporting it.

Commissioner Andy Ander-son said he sensed that there was a "divergence of the board" on the issue.

"I support the concept, but I have a problem with the way it's done," he said.

Anderson amended Sager's motion, suggesting the commissioners send a letter to legislators asking them to take action on pending litigation regarding traditional marriage.

"We'll tell them not to kill the bills, but to go ahead and take action," Anderson said.

That way, he continued, citizens would have the opportunity to tell lawmakers how they feel about the proposed laws.

Anderson's amended proposal passed, with six members voting for it.

Commissioner Jack Best voted against it.

During the commissioners' briefing, Best requested the item be moved from the new business section of the agenda to the public comment section. None of the other board members objected to the item being moved, but some citizens did.

"First I received a call that we would be on the agenda," said Ed Wharton, county chairman of the Republican party. "I'm disappointed."

Wharton said he thinks the majority of Wayne County citizens are concerned about traditional marriage.

Dann Patrick, pastor of Faith Free Will Baptist Church, said county government should be concerned about providing infrastructure for positive growth in the community.

Patrick said traditional marriages form the foundation for a home, which was first instituted by God, and is the most important infrastructure.

"If it goes, the church and the government go," he said.

Patrick said protecting traditional marriage is a moral, not a racial or political issue.

"I hope we won't get hung up over legal aspects," he said.

Neal Jurney said the amendment is the business of the county, and added he, too, was "disappointed with Mr. Best" for moving the discussion to another spot on the agenda.

"The board has drafted resolutions to send to the General Assembly before," he said.

Borden Parker, the county's attorney, said the commissioners has drafted resolutions for laws affecting county government.

Anderson said he had a lot of problems with approving the resolution as submitted because he thought it was a personal issue. He said citizens, or groups, could let their legislators know how they felt about the issue.

"I think it's more appropriate to ask the legislature to consider the bills," Anderson said. "The methodology is my problem."

Commissioner John Bell said the marriage question is a "sensitive issue," adding he doesn't want people drawing the wrong conclusions.

"I'm not a Bible scholar," Bell said, "But I don't need a resolution to tell me about traditional marriage. This is taught in my church every week."

Sager said he thinks the board should stand up on moral issues.

"If we don't, I'm worried about the decay of the country," he said. "We're going down the tubes and that scares me."