Friday, July 22, 2011

Durham N.C. City Council Opposes Proposed Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment

On Thursday, the Durham, N.C. City Council passed a resolution stating its opposition to a proposed state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The resolution, sponsored by Councilman Mike Woodward, was passed unanimously by the seven member council.

Because of its location in the North Carolina Research Triangle, Durham has been attempting to market itself as a prime location for gay and lesbian couples to live and raise a family. Not only did the city pass a resolution in 2009 expressing its support for marriage equality, but it is also one of three cities in North Carolina - the others being Chapel Hill and Carrboro - which extend domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian couples. 

Councilman Eugene Brown, in expressing why he voted for the resolution, stated, 
"We have got more important issues to deal with in this state," City Council member Eugene Brown said after the vote. "Secondly I have just enough of a libertarian streak in me to say keep the government out of our bedrooms," unless it relates to practices such as sex with minors
Durham elected officials also expressed fears that if the proposed Constitutional Amendment passes, it could be used to invalidate the cities domestic partnership law, and embroil Durham in an expensive legal battle. The text of the proposed Constitutional Amendment seems to give this fear legitimacy as it states,
"Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State" 
The proposed amendment must pass with three-fifths support in both chambers of the North Carolina Legislature before it can go to the people for a vote. Currently, both chambers are controlled by the Republican party, which has been pushing for the ban as a way to bring voters out to the polls. In March, a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that the majority of North Carolina residents support some form of recognition of same-sex couples, whether it be in the form of marriage rights or civil unions. 

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