North Carolina law already defines marriage in strictly heterosexual terms, but Christian leaders have joined with local politicians in rallying support for a constitutional referendum that would outright ban same-sex marriage.
At a press conference organized Tuesday by state House Speaker Pro Tem Dale Folwell (R-Forsyth) leaders from the Christian community turned out to put their muscle behind the push for the amendment issue to come before voters on the November 2012 ballot.
North Carolina already has a clearly defined explanation of marriage and does not acknowledge same-sex marriages conducted out of state, thanks to a 1996 law, but clergy present during Tuesdays' meeting say a constitutional amendment is necessary to protect biblical marriage against activist judges.
"The voters of North Carolina should be allowed to vote on the marriage amendment," Johnny Hunter, a pastor at Cliffdale Community Church in Fayetteville, told the Charlotte Post. "A bad judge can nullify the North Carolina state statutes on marriage."
Donald Q. Fozard, Sr., pastor of Mount Zion Christian Church in Durham, was also present at the press conference and agrees with Hunter, saying that it is necessary to use a constitutional amendment to forestall legal challenges.
Fozard also told The Christian Post (CP) Thursday that the issue of gay marriage is a moral matter and not a civil rights issue, noting that "the Bill of Rights are for everybody."
"The whole thing is all screwed up," Fozard told CP. "We're living in a time when wrong is being called right."
The North Carolina pastor said that activists fighting for same-sex marriage were actually "fighting against God Himself" and that anyone claiming the name of Christ had a duty speak out and stand against what he describes as "an atheist agenda."
Fozard insisted, "The atheists left, the majority of the Democratic party, are against the word of God."
State legislatures return to the capital on Sept. 12 for a special session to debate the constitutional amendment and to decide if the measure will make it to the 2012 ballot.
The pastors gathered at the meeting said it was necessary to allow residents to vote on the measure and that they would be taking note of lawmakers who fight against the constitutional amendment.
"I can assure you the church community will watch the way you vote, and we will make it known to our people where you stand," Fozard told the Charlotte Post after Tuesday's meeting.
Some critics, such as local Democrat Joe Hackney, say the push for the constitutional amendment is "a form of hate speech" that only serves to discriminate against the state's residents.
If the amendment makes it to the 2012 ballot and voters approve the measure, North Carolina would become the 30th state to incorporate constitutional language in banning same-sex marriage.