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Petitioners confront McCrory on marriage ban

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/27/17/51/2bdXN.Em.138.jpeg|206
    Davie Hinshaw - dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
    Chris Sgro, Executive Director Equality NC, is surrounded by supporters while discussing the petition they had just delivered to the governor’s uptown Charlotte office on Wednesday morning, Aug. 27, 2014. Same-sex couples and families throughout the state of North Carolina delivered thousands of petitions to Gov. Pat McCrory urging him to stop defending the state’s same-sex marriage ban.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/27/17/51/xQknR.Em.138.jpeg|267
    Davie Hinshaw - dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
    Gwen Rawls and Bishop Tonya Rawls were part of the group that delivered petitions to the governor’s uptown Charlotte office, Wednesday morning, Aug. 27, 2014. The two moved to Charlotte from Washington, D.C., 14 years ago.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/27/17/51/69TsU.Em.138.jpeg|176
    Davie Hinshaw - dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
    Chris Sgro, Executive Director Equality NC, is surrounded by supporters while discussing the petition they had just delivered to the governor’s uptown Charlotte office, Wednesday morning, Aug. 27, 2014. The petitions, collected by Equality NC, North Carolina’s statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization, acknowledge the recent federal ruling in favor of marriage equality by the U.S. Court of Appeals of the 4th Circuit, of which North Carolina is part, and ask the governor to stand with pro-equality North Carolinians and “on the right side of history,” by dropping the defense of North Carolina’s own ban on the freedom to marry.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/27/17/51/11sGBG.Em.138.jpeg|261
    Davie Hinshaw - dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
    Crystal Richardson and partner Miranda McDowell were part of the group that delivered petitions to the governor’s uptown Charlotte office, Wednesday morning, Aug. 27, 2014. Same-sex couples and families throughout the state of North Carolina delivered thousands of petitions to Gov. Pat McCrory urging him to stop defending the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

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Seven people delivered 3,000 petitions to Governor Pat McCrory’s Charlotte office Wednesday morning and urged McCrory to take a stand against North Carolina’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Organizers also delivered about 7,000 more petitions to the governor’s Raleigh and Asheville offices as part of the statewide event.

Equality NC organized the event and started the petition, which tells McCrory, “I’m calling on you and other state leaders to stop any costly defense of our state’s marriage ban. Stand with us and help North Carolina to stand on the right side of history!”

A panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage in a 2-1 vote in July, potentially jeopardizing the future of North Carolina’s ban. N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper announced his office would stop defending Amendment One, which was voted into law in 2012.

“What’s notable here is a couple different state organizations across the country have done similar petition drives,” said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC. “I think we’re up to 12,000 signatures this morning and that makes us the most out of any state in the South and any state in the country.”

A representative from McCrory’s Charlotte office quickly took the petitions and left before attendees spoke.

“This is not an effort in vain – we are really looking to see the governor’s responses to this,” Sgro said.

McCrory had no comment on the petitions as of Wednesday afternoon, according to his office in Raleigh.

“There are thousands of people who believe that same-sex marriage should happen in North Carolina,” said Crystal Richardson, a Charlotte resident who came with her partner of four years to the event. “We’re hoping for a positive response so it’ll definitely be interesting to see if it falls on deaf ears or if our governor responds in a positive way.”

The petition focuses on the business impact of the marriage ban as well as the expense of possibly defending the legislation in court.

“Governor McCrory has certainly positioned himself in the past as a moderate, pro-business Republican,” said Sgro. “We’re in a moderate, pro-business city. We think it makes good business sense and better common sense to be in favor of same-sex marriage.”

Tonya Rawls is a bishop at Sacred Souls Community Church. She and her partner of 15 years, Gwen Rawls, moved to Charlotte from Washington, D.C., 14 years ago.

“When we first came, this kind of conversation and even this kind of gathering would not have been possible,” said Tonya. “So we’re very excited that it’s happening, things are moving forward.”

Bacon: 704-358-5353; Twitter: @erindbacon
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