The North Carolina Pastors’ Network (NCPN) held a press conference on the south lawn of the state Capitol building in Raleigh July 15 to take the offensive on the legal challenges against the state’s marriage amendment.
Kenneth Carrico, executive director of the organization recognized four pastors who spoke about God’s design for marriage and the legal protection of marriage. Carrico presented a petition “to call on North Carolina Governor Patrick McCrory to specifically defend our marriage amendment should the fourth circuit court rule against traditional marriage in N.C.”
Bate Garman, pastor of Life Church in Morganton read a statement on behalf of NCPN president, David Kistler, who was unable to attend. He said, “We the NCPN believe marriage is God’s institution. We also believe the scriptures to be totally clear that marriage is between one man and one woman.
BR photo K. Allan Blume
Mark Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte, addresses the press conference attendees at the state Capitol building Tuesday, July 15.
“We reject the continuing arrogant decisions of the federal courts that assume the right to supersede the constitutional rights of states by negating said state laws and amendments that limit marriage to one man and one woman,” he said. “Additionally, we have the right to expect that our state attorney Roy Cooper should defend our amendment since he is sworn his oath of office to do so. However, Mr. Cooper is on record stating that he is opposed to our state’s marriage protection amendment and appears completely unwilling to defend it.”
The fourth circuit court is expected to render a decision on Virginia’s marriage amendment soon. Since North Carolina falls under the fourth circuit’s jurisdiction, there is concern that N.C.’s laws may fall with the ruling.
Garman said, “We hereby make the following demand. ‘We the N.C. Pastors Network do solemnly and unreservedly call on Governor Patrick McCrory to use his authority as governor of the state of North Carolina to defend our state’s marriage amendment which was passed by an overwhelming majority of N.C.’s citizens on May 8, 2012.”
The second speaker at the press conference, Patrick Wooden, senior pastor of Upper Room Church of God in Christ, Raleigh, said, “The people of this state have spoken. The people spoke loud and clear. … We said we do not want marriage in the state of North Carolina redefined.
“As an African-American minister, as a part of this community, as a native North Carolinian, and a proud American, I want to say to the governor, ‘We need you, even in the African-American community to fight that marriage not be redefined.’”
Wooden wants the governor to know that 73 percent of African-American children are born into homes where there are no dads. “We have a disaster going on,” he said. “We do not need to add to the mix a redefining of marriage, where young black boys and young black girls would now be brought up in homes where there are two moms or two dads, only to add to the confusion.”
He called on McCrory to “vigorously defended” the state’s marriage amendment. He calls the two-parent marriage “a great deterrent to poverty.” Wooden said if the current marriage laws are upheld, there will not be a great need for government handouts.
Mark Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte, said, “It is with great concern and great passion that I join other pastors in standing here today believing that N.C.’s governor Pat McCrory should stand ready and willing to pull out all stops to defend the marriage amendment written into our state constitution in 2012.
“We look to Governor McCrory for his leadership and for his courage in fulfilling his oath to protect and defend the constitution of our great state,” he said.
Harris recalled the 10 years of “liberal leadership” in the state legislature that rejected a public referendum on marriage. New leadership led to a September 2011 vote in the General Assembly that called for the citizens to vote on the issue.
In May 2012 the people voted in what was considered to be an extremely high turnout for a primary.
“North Carolinians of all races and all political persuasions voted not with merely a simple majority, but with an overwhelming 61 percent in favor of marriage in this state being defined in our constitution as one man and one woman,” Harris said. “The people of North Carolina have spoken loud and clear.”
Harris summarized a concern expressed by all speakers. “Today all of us face the threat of judicial over-reach. … Our whole system of government now seems to hang in the balance.”
While some say trends lean away from traditional marriage, the pastors do not agree. “There is not a trend of change in the minds of people,” Harris said. “We must recall that 32 states where people actually were given the chance to vote, they overwhelmingly decided traditional marriage as the law of their state. The only trend … is not a trend of the people, rather it has become a trend of the courts. In fact, some have pointed out that this attitude of judicial supremacy is perhaps the greatest heresy of our times.”
Harris rebuked Cooper, the state’s attorney general, who opposes the marriage amendment and says he will not defend the law. Constitutional attorneys are ready to fight this battle, but they need to hear from the governor, he said.
“It is crucial for Governor McCrory as the head of the executive branch and our General Assembly for that matter, … to not capitulate to this judicial heresy,” he said.
Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina issued a closing plea to the governor.
He said, “May 8, 2012 was a great day for marriage, a great day for North Carolina and a great day for America. The campaign to protect marriage in this state … had traveled a long, long journey to victory.”
He identified many challenges to the marriage amendment. Creech listed two presidents, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, who publicly opposed the N.C. amendment. Former governor, Bev Purdue, celebrities and others voiced their opposition. He labeled media reporting “anything but fair” with most media outlets stating opposition to the marriage amendment. The NAACP also opposed it.
Creech said over $10,000 in pro-marriage campaign signs were stolen or vandalized. Some church marquees were vandalized. The opposition raised funds by a 2-to-1 margin and spent twice the amount on TV ads including “false and egregiously misleading ads based on fear and not on the facts.”
In spite of the “incredible mountain of opposition,” the people of N.C. “declared that marriage is foundational to our culture, that it is an institution of such profound significance that its fate should not be left to the uninformed notions of activist judges or legislators. Marriage and how we define it should be left to ‘we the people.’”
Creech said, “It is a sad, sad day when a government which was meant to be of the people, by the people and for the people has become a government of the courts, by the courts and for the courts.”
He contends the judges are giving a new definition of marriage as a genderless institution. The courts are acting “above the people, above the constitution and above almighty God, Himself [who is] the final authority,” he said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – K. Allan Blume is the editor at the Biblical Recorder.)