The Rev. Franklin Graham is supporting a proposed amendment to North Carolina's constitution that would provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid in the state.
The pro-amendment Vote FOR Marriage NC released an audio message late Friday in which Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, is asking listeners to "take a stand on God's definition of marriage" between a man and a woman and vote for the amendment on the May 8 primary ballot, according to WXII-TV, Channel 12.
Graham's sister Anne Graham Lotz is also backing the measure.
Graham, who serves as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and heads the Samaritan's Purse, is speaking up in favor of the amendment at a time when the measure is being opposed by some religious leaders who say it would harm children as they could lose health insurance. Jay Bakker, the son of infamous televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and who grew up in North Carolina, is one of the opponents.
The advocates and opponents of the amendment are expected to spend more than $1 million for ads as the debate heats up with the forthcoming vote.
Earlier this month, a sign reading "Marriage Sunday April 22" in front of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Hickory, N.C., was found vandalized. The vandals painted over the sign, "Hate Speech Sunday April 22."
Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Vote FOR Marriage NC, says marriage is "profoundly in the public good; it brings men and women together and helps ensure that children will be known and cared for by the people responsible for bringing them into the world. It is the only institution that guarantees the future of our society."
North Carolina has a state law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, but many believe the amendment is needed to protect the law from gay activism. They also fear that if the constitution is not amended, same-sex couples married in other states where gay marriage is legal can move to North Carolina and sue the state to have their marriage recognized.
A Public Policy Polling survey of 1,191 likely voters conducted in late March showed voters favored the amendment 58 to 38 percent. A similar poll conducted by SurveyUSA showed almost the same numbers.