Folwell says gay marriage ban would fulfill campaign pledge
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — A proposed amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage gives voters the choice they were promised, Rep. Dale Folwell, speaker pro tem of the N.C. House of Representatives, said Tuesday.
During their campaigns, Folwell said, many of legislators said they were in favor of passing a constitutional amendment to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Next month, they’ll get the chance to do just that and place the amendment before voters.
In a special session starting Sept. 12, the General Assembly likely will consider the “Defense of Marriage Act” and other proposed amendments.
Folwell, a Republican, visited Rowan County on Tuesday to speak to the Tea Party Patriots about this year’s legislative session under the new Republican majority.
Before the meeting, Folwell told the Post that tea party members and others are frustrated with state and federal government, in part because elected officials haven’t lived up to their promises.
It’s already illegal for same-sex couples to marry in North Carolina, but the amendment would constitutionally require the state to only recognize marriage between a man and a woman as valid.
“If you step back from the subject itself, we are doing what we told the people we were going to do,” Folwell said. “At the end of the day, we are not changing the constitution. We are pushing power to the people that the constitution belongs to and asking them to decide whether they want to change it.”
A three-fifths majority of both the House and Senate would need to pass the amendment before presenting it to voters on the November 2012 ballot.
Gov. Bev Perdue could not veto any constitutional amendments.
Another proposed amendment would prohibit governments from seizing private property for anything other than a public use. The amendment also would require “just compensation” for the property owner.
“Not having eminent domain protection hurts poor people more than anyone else in the state,” Folwell said.
A third amendment up for consideration would limit the terms of the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate to two regular sessions of the General Assembly, or four years.
Prior service as speaker or president pro tempore would not count toward the term limits.
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Other topics Folwell brought up include the state’s high unemployment rate, its schools’ low graduation rate and its debt-ridden budget.
He said the Republican majority has passed tax cuts and regulatory changes that are meant to create jobs and ease the burden on taxpayers.
“How we got here is over-taxation, over-regulation and less accountability,” Folwell said. “This year, we did tort reform and medical malpractice reform, and I was responsible for workers’ compensation reform.”
He said this lowers North Carolina’s high cost of doing business in the state, which should bring more companies here.
Changes to the budget this year will help North Carolina live within its means, he said, and begin to build up a substantial “rainy day fund” that it didn’t have before.
When asked how the budget cuts would affect schools, Folwell said the state is focusing on more efficient ways to improve education.
“The days of ‘spraying and praying’ — spraying money on public education on and praying that it works — are over,” he said.
Folwell added that superintendents have said they can operate under the state budget and weather this storm without firing classroom teachers.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.