By Kristen Johnson
- By a 4-3 vote, the Davidson County Board of Commissioners voted
to reject a proposed resolution asking the N.C. General Assembly to allow a
vote on amending the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
Two nearly identical bills are being discussed in committees in the House and
Senate — House Bill 55 was referred to the Judiciary Committee on Feb. 3,
while Senate Bill 8 was referred to the Ways and Means Committee on Jan. 31.
Commissioner Larry Potts made the motion to approve a resolution originally
presented by commissioner Fred McClure. The motion was seconded by
commissioner Cindy Akins.
The vote was conducted before a standing-room-only crowd of well over 230
people. The crowd spilled from the main meeting room out into the lobby near
the elevators, and jammed hallways to the right and left of the meeting room
“In the past, commissioners have passed resolutions and forwarded them on to
Raleigh to let the legislators know where we stand,” McClure said. “This is
not something uncommon for us. This has nothing to do with a lot of the
conversation that has taken place here tonight — we’re just asking that it be
put before the voters of this state.
“To make no decision is, by itself, a decision.”
McClure repeatedly pointed out that the resolution he was proposing did not
make any definitions, but simply asked for the state Constitutional amendments
to be put before the state’s voters.
Akins agreed with McClure.
“Everyone should be able to vote on this,” she said. “This ought to be put
before the citizens.”
“We’re only asking that people be given the right to vote on amendments to
their Constitution,” Potts said.
But the other three commissioners felt differently, arguing that the
commissioner’s chamber was not the proper place for such discussion.
“My parents have been married for 67 years,” commissioner Dr. Max Walser said.
“Every one in my family is married to someone of the opposite sex. I’ve been
Christian all my life.
“But I would rather this discussion be taken to the home and to the church
rather than put in this room. I don’t believe this is an issue for county
“This is not a local issue per se,” commissioner Fred Sink said. “The federal
government has put this on the state’s shoulders, and that’s where it
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Brother David Hedrick of
Hilltop Baptist Church, said he had petitions signed by more than 3,340 people
asking that the proposed amendments pass.
“Don’t you think that more than 3,000 people would have a greater voice in
Raleigh as opposed to seven people?” Sink asked. “Contact your local
legislators and make your voice heard that way. Three thousand voices is a lot
louder than seven.”
Commissioner Sam Watford was perhaps the most direct of all the
commissioners in expressing his opinion.
“I trust in God and believe in traditional marriage,” he said. “But I will
absolutely decline to debate morality while in this room and while serving in
a governmental capacity. It’s not the time or the place for it.
“I refuse to use the religious and moral values of the majority of Davidson
County’s citizens for my personal and political gain.”
Watford called the question — which in governmental terms means an elected
official wishes to call an end to discussion on a matter and vote.
The board was subsequently polled. Potts, Akins and McClure voted in favor of
the resolution, while Sink, Walser and Watford voted against it.
There being a tie, board chairman Don Truell — former Thomasville mayor and
police chief — was asked to cast a vote and break it.
“Until this meeting, I had not made up my mind,” he said. “We know the gay
community is a minority. That much is a fact. The Bible is the greatest book
there is, but there is a Constitution, too. Sometimes, I think people forget
just what the Constitution is there for — to prevent the rights of the
minority from being trampled by the majority.
“Whatever we do tonight will have no effect on Raleigh’s decision. But if you
have more than 3,000 people supporting your view, you don’t need to be here in
this room — you need to be in Raleigh.
“Everyone claims to be against gay people. Why must we persecute them? Who
should throw the first stone? Not this board.”
With that, Truell voted against the resolution.
According to supporting material included in the meeting agenda packet, 13
states passed amendments to their respective constitutions dealing with
same-sex marriage. In 2000 and 2002, one state passed amendments each year,
while two were passed in 1998.
All amendments have passed by a combined average of 70 percent, and the
federal marriage amendment is favored by a 2-to-1 margin nationwide. In
southern states, that margin increases to 3-to-1.
Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona and
California are other states expected to consider similar amendments soon.
Information on House Bill 55 or Senate Bill 8 is available from the NC General
Assembly website, www.ncga.state.nc.us.
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