Originally published: July 3, 2009, 10:16 a.m.
Updated: July 13, 2009, 3:35 p.m.
Nine LGBT community members in Greenville, N.C., were present for the July 13 meeting of the Pitt County Commissioners to protest the body’s consideration of a resolution to oppose marriage by same-sex couples.
Organizer Randy Toler told Q-Notes that the nine individuals gathered to protest at the corner of a downtown intersection. Asked to leave by a business owner, the group moved to the Pitt County government building, where some spoke against the resolution during the Commission’s public comment period.
The controversy began at a Pitt County Commissioners’ meeting on June 29, when Commissioner David Hammond asked his fellow board members to consider the resolution putting the county on record as opposing same-sex marriage.
He said he wants to send a letter to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, to see if other counties will join the effort as well. Dozens of other county and municipal governments have already adopted resolutions calling for an amendment to be placed before voters.
Although Hammond says he is opposed to same-sex marriage, he also said he’d oppose a resolution calling specifically for a referendum by the citizens of the state.
While the issue has been discussed, the board took no immediate action on the item on June 29 or at the July 13 meeting.
Toler, a junior at East Carolina University, said he hopes the community can continue to rally together in order to stop a resolution from being passed. Although disappointed with the turn out for the protest Monday, he said he understood why some people couldn’t make it.
“A lot of it had to do with scheduling,” Toler said. “Several people on Facebook told me that they would be there but they had to be at work.”
In the past several weeks, Eastern North Carolina community members have called for establishing an organization for LGBT youth and a community center. Toler is optimistic both will come to fruition.
“I think it is completely possible as long as the people of the community are willing, for lack of better words, to man up and make it happen,” he said. “It is a completely realistic goal for an area that can be well-served for gay youth to turn to for counseling, medical referrals. It can happen but people are going to have to wake up and make it happen.”
Kevin Boyette, a recent East Carolina graduate, recently told the campus’ East Carolinian newspaper that he was working to establish a LGBT youth center. Boyette was one of just a few speaking against the idea of the anti-gay resolution at the July 13 meeting.