Billy Graham ads support NC's Amendment One - FOX Carolina 21

Billy Graham ads support NC's Amendment One

Posted: Updated: May 4, 2012 01:25 AM
Evangelist preacher Billy Graham lives in Montreat, NC. (File/FOX Carolina) Evangelist preacher Billy Graham lives in Montreat, NC. (File/FOX Carolina)
ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

When the Rev. Billy Graham talks, people listen.  But the position he's taking on North Carolina's controversial Amendment One is drawing passionate responses on both sides.

Amendment One, if passed, allows marriage between a man and a woman as the only legal domestic union recognized in the state.

Graham, who in recent years has stayed out of the spotlight due to health concerns, has bought a full-page ad to be circulated between 14 newspapers across North Carolina.

In it, he says, "At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage. The Bible is clear. God's definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote for the marriage amendment on Tuesday, May 8."

For Gail Harding, Buncombe County volunteer coordinator for Vote for Marriage NC, those words mean a lot.

"By in large," she says, "the Christian community that tries to live their lives by the teachings of the word of God and have respect for Billy and what he has done...will be influenced by what he has to say."

While Graham is seen as a highly respected figure - especially in western North Carolina, where he lives - his views aren't being met with universal approval.

"Amendment One in its broad definition, which is poorly written in my estimation, really affects heterosexual couples more than gay or lesbian couples," says the Rev. Joe Hoffman with the First Congregation United Church of Christ in Asheville.

Hoffman is part of a contingent of religious leaders across the state that have come out opposing Amendment One.  The Coalition To Protect All North Carolina Families, a group set up to fight Amendment One, says some 400 clergy members across the state have come out against the amendment.

For those against Amendment One, it's about more than same-sex marriage.  

They say the amendment would mean that marriage between a man and a woman would be the only legalized relationship in the state.  Hoffman says common law marriages may not be recognized, that children of unmarried parents could lose health insurance and that domestic violence protections would be at threat.

Hoffman says Graham has it all wrong.

"He might be well respected in this community - I think he is by a lot of people and he was by me once upon a time," says Hoffman. "But I think the world is still changing and God is still speaking and relationships are about who lives one another and that's important."

Harding says the claims others are making about Amendment One aren't true--it's just about marriage.  And she says that last-minute push from Graham may make all the difference.

"By and large he is well respected," she says. "He has certainly lived a life above reproach, we can't throw any stones at him."

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