Democrats question timing on gay marriage amendment

September 6, 2011 3:25:21 PM PDT
The rhetoric began heating up Tuesday as lawmakers look ahead to a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly next week that's devoted primarily to constitutional amendments.

Democrats held a news conference to state their opposition to an amendment that would ban same-sex marriages. They say with the economy limping along, it's the wrong subject at the wrong time, but Republicans say they disagree.

So, would an anti-gay marriage amendment be bad for the state economy?

Democrats say the amendment would be a turnoff to companies that celebrate diversity and offer benefits to same-sex domestic partners.

Anthony Pugliese and his partner Alex have been together for 15 years. After a surrogate gave birth to their twin daughters, Alex quit his job to stay home with them and has insurance through Anthony's position at the American Institute for CPA's in Durham.

"We offer domestic partnership benefits, whether it's both genders or same-sex, every benefit we have," Pugliese explained.

It's something he says he fears his business and others may no longer offer if a constitutional amendment is passed defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Republicans want to put the issue on the November 2012 ballot to let voters decide. During a news conference Tuesday, Pugliese joined Democrats in their argument that the move would be sending the wrong message to businesses.

"The time for now is to create jobs in North Carolina which is exactly the opposite of what this issue would do," offered Rep. Larry Hall (D) Minority Whip, Durham.

But Republicans say the legislation could actually improve the business climate and they argue Democrats had a chance to change the law, but didn't.

"If they felt so strongly about it over the last 10 years, where is there law appealing the law that's on the books? You know, do you want me to show you what it looks like, it's a blank piece of paper," said Rep. Dale Folwell (R) Forsyth County/Speaker Pro Tempore.

Expect the war of words to only get hotter as lawmakers take up the issue next week.

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