Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Durham, North Carolina City Council Passes Resolution Supporting Marriage Equality

A big step towards LGBT equality in the conservative South was taken Monday in Durham, North Carolina when the city's council unanimously voted to pass a non-binding resolution in support of marriage equality.

Though same-sex marriage is banned in the state, the city's council spoke out against such discrimination by passing the resolution.

"I think what it says is that Durham is a community that is very diverse. We are accepting of a lot of different opinions and beliefs,” Mayor Bill Bell told local news affiliate WRAL news.

Joshua Weaver asked the council to consider the resolution in April.

"I want the American dream. I want to be able to get married and have that big house with a couple of kids playing in the yard, and that is why it is so important to me. For someone to tell me that I can't do that (because I'm gay), I just don't think that's right,” Weaver said.

See WRAL's video news report.

Blogger Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend calls Durham her hometown and was able to witness the event.

"I am very proud of my hometown tonight after attending the Durham (NC) City Council meeting where a resolution supporting civil marriage equality for same-sex couples was passed unanimously," wrote Pam on her site. "Mayor Bill Bell and council members affirmed marriage equality. While NC does not allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, it is heartening to have the support of the Bull City (our state legislature has also turned away, for the sixth time, a state marriage amendment)."

Resident Victoria Peterson, whom Pam described as a "well-known local homophobe and failed political candidate", interrupted the proceedings when she realized that the council was going to skip debate and go directly to a vote.

"Excuse me, I'd like to speak," Victoria interrupted. Mayor Bill Bell calmly responded "I'm running the meeting."

Victoria told WRAL news, "There are many of us who are Christians and we are totally against the same-sex marriages, constitutionally as well as biblically."

Thanks to Pam, we have video of the passing of the resolution which was met with a standing ovation.

See full resolution language here.

Opponents of marriage equality have tried six times to pass an amendment to the state's constitution but even as recently as this year, a state "Defense of Marriage Act" failed to get past a House committee.

North Carolina residents are split on their support for a constitutional amendment.

In March, Elon University released a poll that found 50.4 percent of respondents opposed a voter-approved amendment protecting marriage while more than 43 percent supported it.

Though opposed to changing their constitution, only 21 percent favored full marriage rights for same-sex couples, 28 percent for civil unions or partnerships, and 44 percent of respondents said they oppose any legal recognition for same-sex couples.

Image by Pam Spaulding.

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