Mecklenburg commissioners debate resolution opposing marriage amendment

Commission chair wants peers to vote; GOP leader says no

by The Charlotte Observer | via Charlotte News Alliance
By April Bethea
abethea@charlotteobserver.com

Posted: Friday, Apr. 13, 2012

Mecklenburg commissioners could soon take a public stance on the proposed marriage amendment on the May 8 primary ballot.

Chair Harold Cogdell wants the board to consider a resolution opposing the amendment at their Tuesday meeting. He said the amendment goes against county efforts to promote equal rights and opportunities for employees – including a 2009 vote to extend health benefits to employees in same-sex domestic partnerships. Those benefits, he said, could be threatened if the amendment is approved.

In a Friday email to colleagues, Cogdell voiced concerns that the board had not discussed the amendment. He also said he thinks a board discussion could help clear up “a great deal of public confusion” about the ballot measure.

“I am concerned that our silence on this issue sends a message to the rest of the state, nation and the international community about the values embraced by our community that I do not believe represents the philosophy of a majority of Mecklenburg County residents,” wrote Cogdell, who recently switched from Democrat to independent.

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The proposed amendment – often to referred to as “Amendment One” – would bar the state from legally recognizing marriages or civil unions between same-sex couples as well as domestic partnerships between heterosexual couples.

State law already prohibits gay marriage, but supporters say the amendment would give even more protection to traditional unions. Opponents say it is discriminatory against same-sex and other relationships.

Commissioner Bill James, a Republican, said he supports the marriage amendment. James said homosexuality is sinful and promotes “perversity, not diversity.” Still, James said he doesn’t think commissioners should consider a resolution, saying the board shouldn’t tell people how to vote. He called the move a “political stunt.”

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“It is almost as though the (Democrats) refuse to accept what they believe the considered decision of the people of the State of NC will be,” James wrote in an email. “Mad at the polling data that isn’t going their way and desperate to preserve their liberal view on marriage that has no standards, they are now prepared to condemn an amendment that is essentially the same as the state law that they THEMSELVES championed and passed in Raleigh.”

A poll from the Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling in late March showed that 58 percent of likely primary voters said they would vote “yes” on the marriage amendment, while 38 percent planned to oppose the measure. But an Elon Poll released in early April showed that six out of 10 people in the state were against the amendment. That poll did not focus only on likely voters.

Mecklenburg commissioners aren’t the only local board expected to weigh in on the marriage amendment. Later this month, Gaston commissioners are expected to consider a resolution in support of the amendment.

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Posted by The Charlotte Observer

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