Winston-Salem council tables resolution against marriage amendment

Councilwoman Molly Leight is congratulated by resident Michael McGuire for her support of a resolution to oppose the marriage amendment.

The Winston-Salem City Council took a pass on a proposed resolution to oppose the marriage amendment tonight after West Ward Councilman Robert Clark voted against allowing the item on the meeting agenda. City ordinance require a unanimous vote for council to consider an item that has not been previously approved by a committee.

The council will discuss the proposed motion to oppose the marriage amendment next Monday at 5:30 p.m. during what is known as a committee of the whole meeting. The council will also consider whether to put a $100 million bond issue before voters in November when they meet next Monday despite City Manager Lee Garrity's recommendation that council not pursue the investment this year.

South Ward Councilwoman Molly Leight proposed the resolution against the marriage amendment.

"Anything that concerns the citizens of Winston-Salem, anything that concerns discrimination against citizens of Winston-Salem is the business of the city council," Leight said after the decision to postpone the vote. "I think it's going to give us a bad rap. I hate that we're last again."

After the meeting she said that a group of citizens came to her requesting the motion and acknowledged that it was late in the game considering that voters go to the polls to vote on the amendment on May 8.

"We should have gone earlier," she said. "There was always a question about whether council would support it. That was a mistake."

Four council members, including Leight, Southwest Ward Councilman Dan Besse, East Ward Councilman Derwin Montgomery and Southeast Ward Councilman James Taylor Jr. have signed a statement against the amendment. The quartet would need a fifth vote to pass the resolution. Other city councils across the state including Greensboro have already gone on record against the amendment.

The council heard from upwards of a dozen residents, including Wake Forest University law professor Suzanne Reynolds and Assistant District Attorney Mike Silver, who said they are concerned the amendment could invalidate domestic violence protection orders for victims who are in unmarried relationships.

Others, such as Fred Crouch, a Washington DC resident who is considering retiring in Winston-Salem, argued that the amendment is bad for business.

"Wells Fargo across the street has its headquarters in San Francisco," he said. "If they're considering expanding in Winston-Salem, do you think they will send their employees from San Francisco if they will be discriminated against here."

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