Chapel Hill Town Council against NC Defense of Marriage Act

The Chapel Hill Town Council passed a resolution Monday night against the N.C. Defense of Marriage Act proposed in the N.C. General Assembly.

The action came even as the state House passed the legislation, which could make North Carolina’s practice of not allowing gay marriage part of the state’s constitution, in a 75 to 42 vote.

The act would put an amendment stating that marriage is solely defined as the union of one man and one woman at one time on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot for citizen approval.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and council member Penny Rich sponsored the town’s opposing resolution, a symbolic measure.

Rich said that supporting gay rights is important to the identity of the town council.

“We do not believe in discriminating against people, no matter who they are,” she said.

The town currently offers equal benefits to couples in a domestic partnership regardless of sexual orientation, Rich said.

“It’s discriminatory for the majority to vote on who the minority can love,” she said.

The resolution also opposes a second bill raised in the General Assembly, introduced on Feb. 23, that would prohibit recognition of civil unions, domestic partnerships and other same-sex relationships in the state.

Though those in attendance at Monday’s town council meeting voiced support for the resolution, Joan Long, reservation officer at the Republican Women’s Club of Chapel Hill, supports the state measure.

“I believe in traditional marriage. It’s what was ordained in the Bible, and as a Christian, I believe that,” she said.

She said she thinks it will be hard for the state to implement the Defense of Marriage Act if it passes, because she worries it faces strong opposition.

State laws already impose limits on the recognition of same-sex marriage, and incorporating that into the constitution would have limited effects — but would make the laws harder to overturn.

Jeff DeLuca, a UNC senior and gay rights activist, said the act would damage more than just the gay community.

“Companies will not come to North Carolina if they cannot give their employees equal benefits and recognize their personal situation,” he said.

The council’s agenda cited the measure’s broad language as one reason for concern.

It could stop private companies from extending domestic partner benefits to employees, according to the council’s agenda.

Jonathan Miller, a resident who attended the meeting, said he approves of the town’s stand against the legislation.

“I cannot express strongly enough my opposition to the General Assembly’s bill.”

Contact the City Editor

at city@dailytarheel.com.

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