By AMANDA GREENE
Wilmington Faith and Values
“We just want to call this amendment what it is: pure hatred,” said the Rev. John McLaughlin, pastor of St. Jude’s Metropolitan Community Church, at the last rally stop in Wilmington Friday of a statewide tour against a proposed North Carolina marriage amendment.
He was one of several clergy and gay rights activists who spoke at a rally that attracted about 100 supporters Friday in downtown Wilmington’s Riverfront Park.
The rally ended a statewide run by Jen Jones, director of Protect All N.C. Families. She’s has been jogging across North Carolina, rallying supporters against the proposed amendment up for a vote on May 8. The amendment would define marriage as between a man and a woman and would deny benefits to people living in domestic partnerships, whether they are homosexual or heterosexual.
“As a clergy person, I want you to know there are thousands of clergy out there who oppose this,” McLaughlin added. “It’s simply picking people out and saying we can’t stand you, and we’re making a law against you.”
Groups pushing for the amendment started their own statewide Values Bus Tour this week as well. Vote for Marriage NC, the Family Research Council and The Heritage Foundation have scheduled stops at churches, malls and hotels in Raleigh, Charlotte, Indian Trail, Winston-Salem and Tryon this weekend and next week.
At the Wilmington rally against the amendment, for the Rev. Cheryl Walker of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wilmington, opposing the amendment was about “standing on the side of love. In the end, we can say a lot of things about God, but in the end, God is love.”
Former New Hanover County Commissioner Deborah Butler, who is running for a Democratic N.C. Senate seat, joined the voices against the amendment.
“This Amendment One is not necessary, it doesn’t create jobs, and it’s just plain wrong,” she said.
Shortly after Jen Jones arrived at the rally from her final run, supporters continued on to a fundraising event for the campaign at a local restaurant.
“In the kingdom of God, this amendment would not exist,” said the Rev. Matt Highfill, pastor of Winter Park Presbyterian Church. “As someone who’s been very blessed by marriage, I sure can’t deny it to someone else.”