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Avery Democratic Chairman Dick Crews speaks to Avery County Board of Commissioners to
discourage the board from signing a resolution supporting the proposed marriage amendment.
Photo by Matthew Hundley

Originally published: 2012-04-05 10:43:10
Last modified: 2012-04-05 11:08:09

Board OKs resolution on marriage amendment

Matthew Hundley / (

Four members of Avery County Board of Commissioners voted to support a resolution in favor of a proposed amendment to the N.C. Constitution. The amendment reads, “Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

The resolution approved by the commissioners reads, “Therefore, be it resolved that we support the North Carolina Marriage Amendment that preserves North Carolina’s historic and traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Commissioners Kenny Poteat, Scott Heath, Martha Hicks and Glenn Johnson all voted in support of the resolution. Commissioner Phyllis Forbes was not present at the meeting.

Before the meeting, three individuals spoke to the commissioners and the gathered citizens to object to the resolution and to encourage the commissioners to not vote in its favor.

Avery Democratic Chairman Dick Crews spoke first, posing two questions. First, Crews asked, “Do we need another law?” Crews suggested that the new amendment is redundant with the current law in place limiting marriage to same sex couples. Second, Crews questioned the legality of the amendment.

Douglas Owen spoke second in objection to the resolution. Owen cited his concern that such a resolution might discourage business and commerce in the area, citing objections from larger companies. 

“75 CEOs have spoken out against this,” said Owen, who serves as president of Avery County Chamber of Commerce. “We could potentially be chasing away business.”

The last individual to speak against the resolution and the amendment was Steve Horn, who began by stating his support of the current N.C. law prohibiting same-sex marriage. According to Horn, his objection to the resolution and the amendment was due to concerns that the wording of the amendment would limit the rights of unmarried heterosexual couples. Horn noted specific situations, such as spousal abuse, and how such crimes and the rights of the victim might change in the eye of the law if marriage were to become the only legal domestic union. 

No audience members spoke publicly in support of the resolution or amendment during discussion, though representatives from Mayland Citizens for Faith and Family Values were present, including Cathy Miller, who thanked the commissioners for considering the resolution.

Following the public statements, Johnson reminded the group that Avery County Board of Commissioners voted in favor of the motion to bring the issue of defining marriage to a vote on Feb. 2, 2009. Johnson cited clauses from the 2009 resolution, and suggested that the board’s support of the 2009 resolution should lead to its support of the current proposed amendment. Johnson also pointed out the prevalence of such amendments in other Southern states. 

Martha Hicks noted the importance of the issue’s presence on the ballot.

“This is giving everybody the right to vote,” said Hicks. “On May 8, voice your opinion.”

In other news and notes ... 

Public hearing on Avery Farmland Preservation Ordinance 

Ann Coleman spoke to the commissioners to discuss changes to Avery County’s Farmland Preservation Ordinance. According to Coleman, the changes are necessary in order to accommodate changes at the state level. County Attorney Michaelle Poore confirmed that changes to ordinances require a public hearing, which the commissioners set for the next meeting, on May 7. 

Avery Airport Authority repays debt

At the Feb. 6 meeting of Avery County Board of Commissioners, Avery County Airport Authority requested a loan of $50,000 from Avery County in order to pay outstanding debts for work done by contractors. The commissioners approved the loan unanimously. At the April 4 meeting, ACAA presented a check to repay its loan. The funds went to support improvements to the taxiways at the airport, plus the addition on a new taxiway and hangar sites.