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Viewpoints

North Carolina marriage amendment campaign gets under way

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CHARLOTTE — If you are like most voters in North Carolina, you probably are not aware of the fact that a traditional marriage referendum question will be on the May 8 primary ballot.

Your awareness level is about to change.

The marriage protection amendment will enshrine in the state constitution an existing law defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

Last year, traditional marriage supporters in the state legislature pushed for the referendum because of a concern that the law could be changed or overruled in the courts – as has been the case in several other states including Connecticut in 2008, Iowa in 2009, and, most recently, California in 2010, when a federal district judge overturned Proposition 8, a 2008 measure passed by California voters to ban same-sex unions. That legal battle remains held up in court.

Pictured: Bishop Peter Jugis recently videotaped the first in series of four educational videos on marriage that he is producing along with Raleigh Bishop Michael Burbidge in advance of the May 8 referendum to define traditional marriage in the state constitution. Read the transcript from the video on page 22. (Patricia L. Guilfoyle | Catholic News Herald)

Placing traditional marriage in the state constitution puts it beyond the reach of the courts and elected officials, as the state constitution can only be changed by popular vote, marriage supporters point out.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, "Over half of the states have passed language defining marriage between a man and a woman in their state constitutions. Arizona is the only state where a constitutional amendment on the ballot in a general election has failed (2006); however, in 2008 the measure ultimately passed. Typically, constitutional amendments have passed with an overwhelming majority."

A communication campaign, coordinated between the Diocese of Charlotte and the Diocese of Raleigh by Catholic Voice North Carolina, is launching this month with the first in a series of four educational videos on YouTube featuring Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis and Raleigh Bishop Michael Burbidge. Each video highlights important points about the proposed marriage amendment and urges viewers to vote for it.

In the first video, which will be posted to the Diocese of Charlotte's YouTube channel this month, Bishop Jugis explains Church teaching on marriage and emphasizes that Catholics respect the dignity of all persons.

"The Church's position on traditional marriage is not an instance of discrimination or animosity toward homosexual persons. Marriage is based on natural law, a law that can never be changed. Therefore, there will be boundaries that cannot be modified," he said.

Catholic Voice NC isn't alone in its support for marriage. A coalition of churches and public interest groups has formed "Vote FOR Marriage."

Twenty-nine states have defined marriage in their constitutions as the union between one man and woman, with North Carolina and Minnesota eyeing similar moves this year. North Carolina is the only Southern state that does not already support traditional marriage in its constitution.

Twelve states have redefined marriage to include homosexual civil unions or same-sex "marriage," including New York and Rhode Island in 2011.

In addition to the videos, North Carolina Catholics will be seeing bulletin inserts and suggested prayers for the amendment's passage. News articles and advertisements in diocesan publications will appear on a regular basis between now and May. Catholic Voice NC will also be sending out postcards to remind supporters to get out and vote for the May 8 referendum. The bishops will also be in touch with the 6,000 members of Catholic Voice NC via emails and Facebook.

— David Hains, director of communication

Learn more

Read the text of the proposed marriage amendment at: www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2011/Bills/Senate/PDF/S514v5.pdf

Read a transcript of the first educational video by Bishop Peter Jugis.

Read about the letter from the U.S. Bishops, who have joined other religious leaders around the U.S. in issuing "Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together." 

Membership in Catholic Voice NC is free and open to any resident of the state at www.catholicvoicenc.org.

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LETTERS FROM OUR READERS

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FROM THE PASTORS

Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at  parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte: