On May 8th, North Carolina citizens voted to add an amendment to their state Constitution that defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman. One of the strongest-worded of 29 state constitutional amendments prohibiting gay marriage, North Carolina’s constitutional amendment language precludes the state from ever honoring domestic partnerships or civil unions. This new amendment causes a great deal of problems for same sex couples in regards to child custody laws, employer health benefits, and many other areas of civil rights that many couples take fore granted. As people of faith, we are called to be witnesses to love and inclusiveness in our communities. The High Country United Church of Christ in North Carolina was incredibly loyal to their call to witness to the far-reaching love of God throughout the time leading up to the deciding vote.
Members of the High Country United Church of Christ attended a number of seminars on equality throughout the state, and came back to their congregation to educate them on the harmful impact the amendment would have on North Carolinian families. They partnered with the local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in several advocacy efforts, including a six-week long discussion series entitled “A Time to Embrace,” examining same-gender relationships in religion, politics, and the law. This UCC congregation took a leadership role in advocating for faith-based inclusion in their community. They participated in radio, newspaper and television interviews on why their faith led them to oppose Amendment One; ran a series of 10 newspaper ads featuring photos of “traditional” couples in their congregation who oppose Amendment One, along with their compassionate reasons for doing so. The ad series included one group of “10 ministers voting against,” and two days before the vote, a full-page ad of “85 people of faith standing against” the amendment. They offered a workshop for their congregation on writing letters to the editor, and many were written and printed in local news outlets.
The faithful witness of the High Country UCC was heard throughout their community. Although the state as a whole passed the restrictive amendment, seven counties voted against the proposed amendment. Many of the counties were urban (Raleigh, Durham, Asheville, Charlotte, etc) but the rural Watauga County – where High Country UCC is located – also voted against Amendment One. We commend the congregation for their incredible work demonstrating an inclusive voice to the people of North Carolina. We are assured that advocates will continue fighting for equality for all citizens of North Carolina and this nation. You can view the website of the High Country UCC here to see all they have done in opposition to Amendment One and in support of a vision of extravagant welcome and inclusion.
In the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero, “let us never tire of preaching love. Though we see the waves of violence succeed in drowning the fire of Christian love, love must win out; it’s the only thing that can.”
*Special thanks to Melanie Childers and Cath Hopkins for providing us with the information about the HCUCC’s efforts, and leading the charge for equality in their community.