Thomasville City Council approves anti-gay marriage resolution 5-1

Cross-post from Matt's personal blog, |The Q-triad Blog

Tonight, the Thomasville City Council approved, five to one, a resolution urging the North Carolina General Assembly to send an anti-gay marriage amendment to the voters. The Council will send their resolution to Thomasville's representatives in the General Assembly, where it should be circulated to the other members and promptly ignored by our Democrat-controlled Senate and House (as the amendment has been ignored for the past three years in a row). The meeting, however, didn't come without a fight from those supportive of equality and those who simply want government out of the business of marriage. There were plenty of positive things too, including some great statements against the resolution from a Thomasville citizen who also noted the great statements from one of Thomasville's City Councilmembers.

The resolution was presented last week by Council members Dwight Cornelison and Raleigh York, Jr. The resolution states, in part: "the undersigned members of the Thomasville City Council ask the North Carolina General Assembly to allow the citizens of our state… the opportunity to amend our State Constitution to protect the institution of marriage in the state of North Carolina and define the type of marriage to be recognized as valid in our state.” (full text at later in the post)

Before the City Council (pictured right) voted on the resolution numerous members of the public spoke to the Council. Five individuals, including me, spoke against the resolution. Two of the five, Cris Elkins and Samuel Johnson, came to speak after receiving one of the email updates from NC Advocacy. Robbi Cohn, an EqualityNC supporter, found out about the resolution because she lives in Thomasville. The other speaker, Barney Hill, a self-described "heterosexual Baptist," is also a Thomasville citizen, one who evidentally watches the actions of his government very closely and one who regularly attends government meetings. Only one person, the Reverend Ron Baity of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC, spoke in favor of the resolution. Two girls, about my age, came to speak also, but came just a tad too late to sign up for the Public Forum. Members of the media were also present, including The Winston-Salem Journal (story should be printed in the Tuesday, October 17th issue) and WFMY News 2 (which did a great story at the 11pm news broadcast).

Click here to hear a recording of the meeting (edited down to just the Public Forum section and vote on the resolution).

Barney Hill (like I said, a self-described "heterosexual Baptist" Thomasville citizen) was, perhaps, the strongest speaker on the issue. It was surprising to see a member of the general audience stand up and speak against the resolution. Here's what Barney had to say:

I hope it’s legal for a heterosexual Baptist to be against this because I am… I speak in opposition of [the resolution]… Miss [Marie] Culbreth [City Council, Ward 2] had this one nailed: It is nothing more than a scheme to hijack the North Carolina Constitution to make a political statement about sexual preferences. I already sat through this movie one time. The resolution in front of you tonight differs in two ways from the one the County Commissioners rejected: number one, it’s more long winded and number two, it doesn’t say what it really means. I can excuse verbosity, but not dishonesty. I’m 56 years old and single for all that time. I don’t want to marry a man and I don’t want to marry a woman, I’m already married to a leaky roof the size of Texas… and I’d like to be married to enough money to get it fixed, but I don’t look to government for my salvation. I recommend for marriage… that it be divorced from government and that it be taken out of politics… If the secular were separated from the sacred, the demagogues would have to find a new hobby horse.

After those speaking in favor of the resolution addressed the Council, Reverend Baity stood up to speak. Here's what he had to say:

This Constitutional amendment that we’re talking about this evening is necessary to give the people of North Carolina an opportunity to decide on marriage. Every major issue in our country – prayer, the bible… prayer at ball games, Roe v. Wade – all of those issues have been settled and ruled upon by the Judiciary. We believe that its time that the people of this country have the opportunity to make the final decision... We are asking the state of North Carolina to allow the people of this state the opportunity to decide what marriage is and we don’t think that’s asking too much. We think that the judiciary has made too many of these decisions for too long and that its time that the General Assembly to allow the people of the state of North Carolina to make that decision. I’m amazed how often it is said we have hate speech. That is not what we have. The truth of the matter is the Lord Jesus Christ said marriage was between one man and one woman… You can’t make anything else out of that. God had an urban renewal program for Sodom and Gomorrah because they were caught up in that, but that’s not the issue here this evening. The issue this evening is to allow the people of North Carolina the freedom to vote on what marriage really is and what it consists of… We believe it is time the legislators of the state of North Carolina allow the people of North Carolina the opportunity to decide what marriage is. Thank you.

The Council held their vote, with Raleigh York, Jr. making the motion to approve and Dwight Cornelison seconding. Five voted in favor, with one, Mrs. Maria Culbreth voting no.

After the vote I and three of those who spoke against the resolution rose to leave the room. I walked up to Reverend Baity in the rear of the room, shook his hand and thanked him for coming to the meeting in order to speak to the Council. He was, I must say, quite personable and respectful.

Here is the text of the entire resolution:

WHEREAS twenty states have had the opportunity to amend their state constitutions defining marriage, and on November 7, 2006, seven other states, including the following North Carolina border states, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia will have the opportunity to amend their state constitutions, and

WHEREAS the state of North Carolina is fortunate to have strong marriage laws in place, these laws are not immune from legal challenges, and

WHEREAS given the definition of marriage in North Carolina is statutory, they are open to challenge under North Carolina's Constitution, and

WHEREAS a constitutional amendment is the only way that the General Assembly and the people of North Carolina can protect our strong marriage laws and assure that the courts do not define the issue for the people; be it therefore

RESOLVED that the undersigned members of the Thomasville City Council ask the North Carolina General Assembly to allow the citizens of our state the same right that Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia and other states have exercised, the opportunity to amend our State Constitution to protect the institution of marriage in the state of North Carolina and define the type of marriage to be recognized as valid in our state.

You'll notice that the resolution doesn't openly state what it means. No where in the resolution will you find a mention of sexual orientation or same-sex relationships. This is what Barney Hill was speaking about when he noted the differences between this resolution and the one which failed, 4-3, at the Davidson County Board of Commissioners last year. There is no hiding the intent of this resolution. There is no hiding the intent of the amendment submitted to (and rightfully ignored by) the General Assembly for three years. The Reverend Baity's own statements to the Council concerning an "urban renewal plan for Sodom and Gomorrah" prove the intent of the proponents of this resolution and amendment.

An amendment to the North Carolina Constitution limiting marriage to one man and one woman is nothing but discrimination targetted squarely at gay and lesbian citizens of this state. The amendment's unintended consequences - the possibility of banning domestic partnerships or limiting legal contracts between unmarried individuals - would be extremely harmful to both gay and straight North Carolinians.

North Carolina has remained the ONLY Southern state to keep an anti-gay constitutional amendment off the ballot and I hope we remain the only Southern state with that well-deserved status.

Oh... and check this out. I had to drive up Route 109 to get back to Winston from Thomasville. Guess which church I had to pass on the way:


Thanks for the report

To waste government time with nonsense like this is ludicrous. They should be charged by the hour when they introduce crap like this. We pay taxes so these idiots can mess around like this? How about figuring out real problems? Like child poverty, like over-crowded schools, like unreachable healthcare. Amendment against gay marriage, my fuzzy white butt. They just want everyone to know how "notgay" they are. Losers.

(ok - I realize it sounds like a 12 year old posted the last part of that. Can't help it. They're just - losers. (not sure what kind of language is acceptable here, so substitute your favorite slang of choice for "losers".)

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Ghandi

I'm with Lcloud

That was a waste of taxpayer money. So many more issues are in dire need of attention on the state and local level. Matt, you're doing a beautiful job. I hope it's not too condescending to say that I'm proud of you because I am. That Barney Frank sounds like a character....and a smart one too.

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Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.


If Thomasville has any name recognition it is because of the Thomasville Furniture Industries furniture company. The interior design community should pressure the company to ask its namesake town to reconsider this. Thomasville furniture is sold through its retail stores and interior designers. Thomasville cabinetry is sold through Home Depot. I'm not necessarily advocating a boycott of Thomasville Furniture Industries whose address is 401 East Main Street, Thomasville, NC 27360, and whose President is Nancy W. Webster, but the name recognition will surely spread this story and come back to haunt the company and the town.

That's a good idea gregflynn.

A few letters wouldn't hurt.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Ghandi

I AM necessarily advocating a boycott.

Do we have people here with connections into the furniture industry? Could we create momentum to blackball the name "Thomasville" in the world of design and interiors?

In my view, this is a question of corporate responsibility. The company could have stood for something in their town and they didn't. They are either supportive of the resolution, or indifferent. Either way, they deserve to suffer consequences.

I know I tend to have grandiose ideas more often than I am able to execute them, so feel free to say I'm full of bull. But if I'm not . . . and if it's possible to use this sad decision as a way to focus debate . . . then let's at least consider a strategic campaign called:

What's Wrong With Thomasville?

I thought you might

I cracked the door. I just wanted to make sure somebody was at the door before I opened it completely. I think a boycott has great potential to open this issue up completely and maybe push back on some of these constitutional assaults.

Barney & Marie

I was so surprised last night when citizen Barney Hill and Councilmember Marie Culbreth were open about being against the resolution. I walked into that small-town council chamber (which looked more like a church sanctuary) fully expecting that the folks who came with NC Advocacy would be the only ones to be against it. Boy was I wrong! Things, I think, are changing, although slowly. Even in a small, NC town like Thomasville there were (straight) people who were willing to be open about their opposition to the resolution and amendment. I talked to another citizen after the meeting (I forget his name) and he pretty much said he was against it for the same reasons I've said and you all have said: It is a waste of time and money and so many more important issues need to be dealt with.

Gotta love Barney though (yes, he is quite a character Southern Dem). I love what he had to say and what he said Miss Culbreth said.

I'm a little upset at the Winston-Salem Journal though. While they did at least cover the story(which is one of the first stories of mine they've covered since I was in high school, not including the what they did for the Right to Serve campaign - which was just a simple picture and caption, although not a full story), they did not even mention the name of NC Advocacy. I don't really care if I had a quote in there or not (which I didn't), but they could have at least mentioned NC Advocacy since we organized some people to be there and since the Journal originally found out about the vote because of our press release.

I don't have any connections to Thomasville's furniture industry, but it would be interesting to see if the company(ies) include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies or if they offer domestic partner benefits. Maybe I should have researched that and told it to the Council last night.

Matt Hill Comer

Matt Comer

I bet that will be research

you can do for major employers in every community so that you will always have that information on hand. Great idea.

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Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

Oh! and it was wonderful meeting you case I haven't said it yet.

Click on the hat to see all Citizen Journalist files

Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.