RALEIGH, N.C. (EWTN News)—Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh has praised the North Carolina Legislature’s decision to allow citizens to vote on a marriage amendment that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
“I extend my sincere gratitude to all who worked on behalf of this amendment, but our work is not done. I remain committed to work with all who want to preserve and protect the true essence of marriage as a union of one man and one woman,” he said.
The state Senate voted on Sept. 13 to approve the legislation by a 30-16 vote, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats voting against. The amendment passed the House by a vote of 75-42, with 10 Democrats voting in favor.
The statewide vote on the amendment will take place in May 2012.
In a Sept. 7 letter, Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte asked the Catholics of North Carolina to phone their legislators in support of the amendment.
“Our Lord and our Catholic faith have clearly defined marriage. It is at risk of being redefined if we do not preserve it in our state Constitution,” they said.
“Without this, a judge can declare our present statute defining traditional marriage as unconstitutional, opening the door to same-sex ‘marriage’ in North Carolina, as judges have done in Massachusetts, Iowa and Connecticut.”
Thirty other states have constitutional amendments defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Amendment opponents construe these as “gay-marriage bans.”
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said the state Legislature’s vote was “a big win for marriage and for democracy.”
“The big lie in politics is that the marriage fight is over. This vote proves once again the pundits are wrong: The people want the right to decide the future of marriage,” he said Sept. 13.
He said his organization had reached out to more than 100,000 North Carolinians to make sure they contacted their representatives about the vote.
Opponents of the amendment are arguing that its full impact is unknown and could interfere with the rights of unmarried heterosexual couples and invalidate domestic-violence laws, The Bellingham Herald reported.
Some opponents have compared the amendment to restrictions that prevented interracial marriage.
Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, said she will avoid taking a stand on the proposal.
Republican state Rep. Paul Stam has cited a survey of 500 likely voters claiming that 61% were “definitely for” the amendment and support crossed party lines. Twenty-three percent were “definitely against.” The poll from Public Opinion Strategies had a margin of error of 4.38 percentage points.