Gay Rights Activists, Christian Leaders React to NC Ban on Gay Marriage

To the surprise of few, the approval of a gay marriage ban by 61 percent of North Carolina voters on Tuesday has brought harsh criticism from supporters of gay marriage who posted comments on social media sites and wrote columns voicing their strong opinions.

In an article published Wednesday in The Washington Post, Michelle Bernard, president of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy, tried to make the case that marriage – both traditional and homosexual – is a "basic right."

"The days of June and Ward Cleaver and their sons Wally and Theodore 'the Beaver' in the 1950's sitcom Leave It to Beaver are remnants of a bygone era to which America will never return," Bernard wrote. "Rather than defining traditional family values and using that notion of what America should be to divide the nation, policymakers should focus on supporting and advancing the America that is, not the America that was."

Bernard also blamed "white males" for pro-longing the debate on traditional family values, saying, "I believe that America is the greatest nation on earth. I also believe that the much-ballyhooed fight to preserve the socially conservative notion of 'traditional American family values' is nothing more than an attempt to go back in time to an era where white males dictated culturally, legally, and politically, virtually all aspects of how Americans lived their lives."

While the issue brought reaction from within the state, the majority of comments that generated the most attention were from those who live outside of the Tar Heel state.

"North Carolina – keeping hate alive," wrote Minnesota resident Mike Schwandt in a Facebook post.

Paul Martin, a former student at Clemson University in neighboring South Carolina, asked on Facebook, "So let me get something straight. I can marry my first cousin from Charlotte, but I can't marry my buddy from Raleigh? One of those things makes no sense."

"Now I understand what the Wright Brothers were trying to fly away from," tweeted actor Michael Ian Black.

Nonetheless, key Christian leaders of groups who supported the amendment such as Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America were just as vocal about the amendment's passage.

"We commend the voters of North Carolina for standing up for traditional marriage – defining it the way God and thousands of years of experience has taught us – as the union between one man and one woman," said Nance in a written statement.

"Concerned Women for America believes traditional marriage and families are the backbone of our society and must be protected. Our country is strong when our children are raised in an environment with both a mother and a father who love each other, and their children, unconditionally."

Although several notable Christian leaders such as Nance encouraged voters to support the measure prior to the vote, none were as well-known and respected as the Graham family of North Carolina.

The Rev. Billy Graham and two of his children, Franklin Graham and Anne Graham Lotz, publicly endorsed the measure. Franklin, who is president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, spoke on behalf of the family following the vote.

"On Tuesday my state of North Carolina became the 31st state to approve a constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman. While the move to pass the amendment defining marriage is relatively new, the definition of marriage is 8,000 years old and was defined, not by man, but by God himself."

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