Defend marriage law, N.C. pastors urge
RALEIGH, N.C. (BP) -- Going on the offensive for North Carolina's marriage amendment, a state pastors' organization held a press conference at the state capitol to urge Gov. Patrick McCrory to defend the law in court.
Kenneth Carrico, executive director of the North Carolina Pastors' Network, introduced four pastors who spoke about God's design for marriage and the legal protection of marriage at the July 15 press conference on the capitol's south lawn in Raleigh.
Carrico also presented a petition calling McCrory "to specifically defend our marriage amendment" should the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rule against traditional marriage.
Bate Garman, pastor of Life Church in Morganton, read a statement on behalf of NCPN's president, David Kistler, who was unable to attend. "We the NCPN believe marriage is God's institution," Kistler noted in the statement. "We also believe the Scriptures to be totally clear that marriage is between one man and one woman.
"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," Kistler's statement continued. "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 federal appeals court is expected soon to render a decision on Virginia's marriage amendment. Since North Carolina is under the Fourth Circuit's jurisdiction, there is concern that the state's marriage law also could be affected.
Kistler's statement declared: "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 in 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 said he 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."
Wooden called on McCrory to "vigorously defend" the state's marriage amendment since two-parent marriages are "a great deterrent to poverty" that reduce the need for government handouts.
Mark Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, said, "It is with great concern and great passion that I join other pastors in standing here today believing that North Carolina'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 Gov. McCrory for his leadership and for his courage in fulfilling his oath to protect and defend the constitution of our great state," Harris 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 for the citizens to vote on the issue, leading to a May 2012 primary ballot with extremely high turnout.
"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, saying, "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, Harris said there is "not a trend of change in the minds of people."
"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," Harris said. "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 Gov. McCrory as the head of the executive branch and our General Assembly for that matter ... to not capitulate to this judicial heresy," Harris said.
Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, issued a closing plea to the governor.
"May 8, 2012, was a great day for marriage, a great day for North Carolina and a great day for America," Creech said. "The campaign to protect marriage in this state ... had traveled a long, long journey to victory."
Creech identified many challenges that North Carolina's marriage amendment has faced, listing two presidents, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, who publicly opposed it. Former Gov. Bev Purdue, celebrities and others voiced their opposition. Creech labeled media coverage "anything but fair," with most media outlets stating opposition to the marriage amendment. The NAACP also opposed it.
More than $10,000 in pro-marriage campaign signs were stolen or vandalized, Creech said. 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," North Carolinians "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."
Judges are giving a new definition of marriage as a genderless institution, Creech said. The courts, he said, are acting "above the people, above the Constitution and above almighty God Himself [who is] the final authority."
K. Allan Blume is the editor of the Biblical Recorder (www.BRnow.com), newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.