North Carolina and West Virginia are the only two states in the southeast without an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. A majority of states (29) have one.
"We're here today to protect families and make sure every child retains the right to have both a mother and a father," Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council told the crowd, according to the Associated Press. "We're here today to preserve our right to religious freedom and our sincere belief that anything other than marriage shared between a man and a woman goes against God's design for creation."
With Republicans now in charge of the legislature, amendment supporters are hopeful the House and Senate will take action. The GOP took control of the House and Senate in November for the first time since 1898. Democrats previously had blocked an amendment from going forward.
Three-fifth of the legislature must approve it for it to appear on the 2012 ballot, AP reported.
Marriage amendments prevent state courts from legalizing "gay marriage," as has happened in four states. Conservatives warn the legalization of "gay marriage" would have a widespread negative impact on society, affecting the tax-exempt status of religious organizations, the religious liberty of private businesses and curriculum in elementary schools.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island's legislature may vote this week on a civil unions bill that would grant same-sex couples all the legal benefits of marriage, except the title. Critics say civil unions are nothing more than a stepping stone to "gay marriage."
KAN. GOV. SIGNS STRONG PRO-LIFE BILL -- Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law May 16 legislation further toughening restrictions on abortion providers.
The measure, the third pro-life bill endorsed by the Republican governor this session, includes the following:
-- A woman using the two-step drug RU 486 for an abortion must take it in the physical presence of a doctor, thereby preventing a "telemed" abortion, which is performed by means of videoconferencing.
-- An abortion after the 21st week of pregnancy must occur at a licensed hospital or outpatient surgery center.
-- Each abortion clinic must be licensed and undergo two annual inspections, one without prior notification.
-- Each abortion doctor must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the site where he performs the procedure.
-- Each woman requesting an abortion will have the opportunity to review an ultrasound image of her unborn child.
"In order to make money doing abortions, they have to do a lot of them. Medical regulations slow them down," said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, according to the Associated Press. "Anything we could do to require the clinics to care more about women than about their profit margins is a good thing."
In a pro-life victory in the neighboring state of Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law May 12 legislation prohibiting the use of RU 486 except in compliance with the guidelines under which it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some abortion providers have instructed women to use the drug in an "off-label" manner. At least eight women have died in the United States after taking the abortion drug, and critics have blamed its "off-label" use in some of those cases.
"For too long, abortion providers have been dispensing abortion-inducing drugs in an unsafe manner that serves only to boost their profit margins," said Daniel McConchie, Americans United for Life's vice president of government affairs. "With this legislation, this practice will stop and women in Oklahoma will be better protected from such predatory practices in the state."
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press, and Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net