Two Sides Harden on Marriage Amendment
Passions locally are running strong both for and against the so-called “marriage amendment” on the May 8 primary ballot.
The amendment, if passed, would change the state constitution to ban recognition of same-sex marriages or any other domestic union other than “marriage between one man and one woman.”
Amendment One, as it is called, will be on the ballot when North Carolina voters go to the polls for the primary elections.
Last week, a meeting at the Sandhills Baptist Association offices in Carthage brought together eight or nine pastors — most of them Southern Baptists — to see what they could do to build support for the amendment.
“They all saw this could be put simply as a political issue,” said Tom Lampkin, who organized the session. “They see it as a moral issue. This comes out of the holiness of God — for us as revealed through Scripture in the person of Jesus Christ and how he interpreted the will of the Father.”
The Bible, he said, gives humans everything needed to live a holy life. Everyone there believed the New Testament clearly and unequivocally says marriage is only for one woman married to one man.
They do not deny that they are advocating writing into the state constitution something coming out of one particular religion. But these pastors see the state’s interest as having to do with public health “the health of individuals, of healthy relationships” and moral standards.
“What is right in God’s eyes?” Lampkin asked. “It is not one particular religion, but God’s holiness.”
On the other side of the issue, a room full of opponents — gay and straight — gathered Sunday afternoon at the Southern Pines Civic Club to organize an effort to defeat the amendment. Two married couples described themselves as conservative but strongly against this amendment.
“I am a straight, married person,” Jim DeKornfeld said, speaking out during the meeting. “Institutionalized bigotry and discrimination is wrong. Anytime you can stop bigotry, it’s a good thing.”
He and his wife will vote against Amendment One and try to convince others to fight it as well. Dawn Penfold, DeKornfeld’s wife, said she believes people have a right to choose their own domestic partners.
“It is their right; there are a lot of good people that understand the difference,” Penford said. “I don’t think you can impose on a church if it is their doctrine. That’s their right, as long as you are not infringing on someone else’s rights.”
Larry Postlethwaite feels the same way, and so does his wife, Jane.
“It is just becoming ‘regulation nation’ and I think we have enough regulations already,” he said. “We need to let people have a little bit of freedom and pursue their happiness however they choose to do that. It is not for me to judge.”
He doesn’t understand why politicians who trumpet small government like these kinds of rules.
“Go figure, I can’t understand it,” Postlethwaite said. “I don’t really understand it, but we are here to fight against it. Of course, it is the first time in — what? 100 years? — that Republicans have had the majority here.
“Republicans ran on a platform of job creation, but in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and all of the other state houses where they’ve been voted in — it’s been a social agenda as opposed to a job creation agenda.”
Jane Postlethwaite feels even more strongly about fighting the amendment. She is outraged, embarrassed for the state of North Carolina that this should even appear on a ballot.
“It takes away rights,” she said. “This Amendment One is terrible. When I think of the rights of any human being for having a loving relationship — wanting a family — I think what they are trying to do is wrong. It takes away a person’s right to their own happiness, (the right) to have a family. It is designed to take away essential human dignity. To me — how I really, really feel — I am just so upset with so much government interference in our lives.”
Like her husband, she’s always considered herself a conservative. She’s stunned by the turn her party has taken.
“Can you imagine that the Republican Party — which has always wanted limited government, which is how I feel — will get involved in social issues of a personal nature?” she said. “I think that’s what bothers me most: that their government is so intrusive on something that is so basic. It is amazing.”
All four listened to Michael Edwards lay out ways of organizing to fight Amendment One. Like others at the Civic Club wearing blue “Vote Against One” buttons, they heard volunteers from Moore Against Amendment One explain the use of phone banks and other strategies to have the amendment defeated. They will begin calling registered voters to explain the amendment and urge them to vote against it.
When Edwards asked how many would be willing to spend one evening of their time, every hand in the room went up.
“This is a really bad thing, people!” Edwards said. “This is why all of you are here. I can call 10 people in the time it takes to talk to neighbors on each side of me. Phone banking is vital if we are going to make a difference in Moore County. Yes, everybody in this room should talk to their neighbors.”
Contact John Chappell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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