County commissioners support marriage amendment

Article Published: Apr. 5, 2012 | Modified: Apr. 5, 2012
County commissioners support marriage amendment

Watauga County commissioners weighed in Tuesday on the proposed state constitutional amendment defining marriage, voting 3-1 in support of the amendment.

The amendment, which goes before the public for a vote in the May 8 primaries, reads: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

The vote on the resolution split along party lines, with Republican commissioners David Blust, Vince Gable and Nathan Miller voting for, and Democratic commissioner Jim Deal voting against.

Commissioner Tim Futrelle was absent.

The resolution of support was not on the agenda, but the Republican commissioners said they wanted to consider it before early voting begins later this month.

“Ultimately, it matters what the people say, but it was good to get it on the record before early voting starts,” Miller said.

Deal took offense to the timing of the resolution, stating that he had no advance notice that it would be considered at Tuesday’s meeting and did not even have the proposed resolution language before him.

North Carolina statutes already prohibit gay marriage, and Deal, Gable and Miller argued briefly about whether individual judges could circumvent the law.

Proponents of the amendment argue that traditional marriage between one man and one woman is the ideal manner for raising a family and that it needs to be written into the N.C. Constitution to prevent “activist judges” from overcoming it.

Opponents say it turns gay people into second-class citizens and could harm the way of life even for heterosexual unmarried couples.

Deal further explained his vote after the meeting.

“I strongly believe marriage is between one man and one woman,” he said. “I think a constitutional amendment is unnecessary. I think it’s divisive. We ought to be more focused on jobs and creating opportunities for our citizens.”

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