Anti-gay marriage amendment circulating in Raleigh

Amendment discussion comes on tail of Equality North Carolina lobbying day this week

by Matt Comer  Editor
Published: February 16, 2011 in News

RALEIGH, N.C. — LGBT advocates working at the North Carolina legislature say a constitutional amendment to ban recognition of same-sex relationships could be filed as early as this week.

Equality North Carolina sent out an action alert to its members on Wednesday saying that Republican Gaston County Sen. James Forrester had begun circulating the amendment and seeking co-sponsors for it. Ian Palmquist, the group’s executive director, told qnotes that he’d yet to see a copy of the amendment and it’s text though he imagined it wasn’t much changed from the version submitted in several previous legislative sessions.

The proposed constitutional amendment, held at bay for seven years by the formerly Democratically-controlled legislature, would not only ban recognition of same-sex marriages but any kind of relationship recognition for gay couples. The amendment could also ban private companies based in the state from offering domestic partner benefits.

Palmquist said he wasn’t sure when the bill would be filed and hadn’t yet heard of any companion bill in the House.

Forrester’s move comes just one day after Equality North Carolina held its annual Day of Action at the state legislature. Just under 200 people from across the state traveled to Raleigh to meet with their elected officials and discuss issues important to the LGBT community.

“We had a great turnout and people had a good experience talking to their legislators,” Palmquist said. “We found some opportunities I think to engage some new legislators on our issues.”

Palmquist said he wasn’t sure what prompted Forrester to take action this week. “I don’t if he went ahead and did it in response to our activities but we knew the bill would be there at some point this year,” he said.

The amendment will potentially face relatively little opposition in the legislature this year. Republicans, who have long supported the amendment, gained control of the General Assembly in last fall’s election. Republican leaders in both the House and Senate have spoken about social issues very little thus far this session, instead focusing their attention on the economy, jobs and the state budget.

qnotes reached out to Forrester’s office but was unable to speak to him.