State legislators were “fish in a barrel” for several thousand people who braved frigid temperatures March 3 in Raleigh to demand that legislators give them a chance to vote on a marriage amendment.
With the temperature at 20 degrees when the rally started participants, who came in cars and buses from all over the state, sang, prayed and committed to visit their legislators afterward.
Paul Stam, Republican House minority leader and one of 66 sponsors of a marriage amendment that has languished in committee for five years, asked if anyone had heard of “shooting fish in a barrel.”
Pointing to the legislative buildings behind the crowd, Stam said, “There’s the barrel. Go fishing this afternoon.”
Stam, who has been on the Baptist State Convention board of directors, said afterward that rallies of this nature don’t always have an effect, but he expected more from this one because it was well organized. He also said the political and legal landscape has changed and he is “optimistic” that “democracy may break out,” meaning North Carolinians may have a chance to vote on a marriage amendment.
North Carolina Baptists’ board of directors in January endorsed the NC4Marriage effort to get an amendment on the ballot.
North Carolina law already defines marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. The push for a protection of marriage amendment is fueled by fear that an “activist judge” will rule that law unconstitutional if the state is sued to recognize a homosexual marriage performed in another state.
Four shivering high school girls were among the crowd estimated between 3,000 and 4,000 by Capitol police. They traveled from the Thomasville area, “to stand up for what is right.”
“God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” said Brooke Adams, who laughed with her friends and said, “That’s my favorite line” in this discussion. Adams is a member of Hilltop Baptist Church.
Her friend Trisha Halsey, a member of Allendale Baptist Church, said she came to protest same sex marriages, which she said, “The government is going to try to make legal.”
The girls said other friends agree with them to a point, but those who have gay friends are less inclined to support their view.
Traci and Chad Burnett drove more than four hours from Forest City “to support one woman, one man, that’s marriage,” Chad said.
“It’s important to show that the state of North Carolina recognizes God’s law,” he said. Saying the Constitution is based on biblical precepts, he said, “Without God’s law the Constitution is just paper.”
“The godless, liberal government is trying to take God’s law and precepts out of everything,” Traci said. The Burnett’s are members of Campfield Memorial Baptist Church in Ellenboro.
David Gibbs III of the Christian Law Association, told participants as they hit the hallways legislators will want to know the benefits of a marriage amendment and what other states are doing. He then coached them in both areas.
A marriage amendment is good for children, he said, because in nations where marriage is defined more broadly the whole institution is devalued and as many as half of children are born out of wedlock.
The amendment would protect against “all kinds of unusual marriages,” he said, such as polygamy or even, he said facetiously, with pets or robots. The amendment would protect public schools and teachers from having to teach books such as the one where Massachusetts second graders read that a prince rejected a princess bride in favor of her brother.
Gibbs said an amendment would be good economically, keeping businesses and the government from having to provide Social Security, medical and survivor benefits to same sex partners.
Gibbs said the world is watching America. Only two nations — The Netherlands and Belgium — recognize same sex marriage, he said, but a dozen others have some variation of it. Nations still considering how to handle the issue are waiting to see what America does with it, he said.
Thirty other states have what is called DOMA, or Defense of Marriage Amendments, in their constitutions, Gibbs said. He said the national discussion is fast moving in the direction where it is important that North Carolina be able to vote this year, because President Obama has indicated he wants to repeal the federal DOMA.
David Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders, said homosexuals comprise only 1.6 to 1.9 percent of the population. In states that recognize same sex marriage, only two percent of homosexuals actually marry, he said, lamenting that for “just two percent of two percent” of the population, America is being asked to redefine marriage.
Stam said the bill to let North Carolinians vote on a marriage amendment has 66 sponsors and three others who have promised to vote for it. It needs 72 votes but Stam is confident those can be found if the Senate and House majority leadership would let it be reported out of committee, where it has languished every year for five years.
The House and Senate leaders keeping the amendment locked up Senate pro tem Marc Basnight, and Speaker of the House Joe Hackney. Charles Dannelly is chairman of the Ways and Means Committee where the bill has languished. Tony Rand is Senate majority leader.
A spokesman for Basnight said March 4 that persons with a concern should contact the legislator who represents them.