Marriage amendment divides county

Catawba County commissioners adopted a resolution Monday in support of the state’s marriage amendment — making history and setting a “precedent” by accepting a resolution brought forth by a citizen.

Hickory resident Betty Cotton, the co-chair for Catawba County, asked the Catawba County Board of Commissioners to adopt a resolution in support of the state’s proposed marriage amendment. The amendment, which North Carolina citizens will vote on May 8, clearly defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The commissioners adopted the resolution by a vote of 3-2, with commissioners Randy Isenhower, Barbara Beatty and Dan Hunsucker voting in support of the resolution. Commissioners Chairwoman Kitty Barnes and Commissioner Lynn Lail dissented.

Commissioners adopted the resolution after nearly three-dozen Catawba County citizens voiced their opinions on the state’s marriage amendment — for or against.

Before the board made its ultimate decision, Barnes and Catawba County legal counsel David Hood voiced concerns about taking action on a resolution brought forth by a citizen — something the board has not traditionally done.

“This resolution was something a citizen brought forth to you,” Hood said. “What commissioners need to do is decide if they will start a precedent of holding a referendum for every issue a citizen brings forward…Something the county is particularly working on is one thing, but it is a concern to take a vote on a referendum or issue that has nothing to do with the core of county government.”

Lail made a motion to not vote on the resolution, saying that adopting such a measure would set a precedent that could take time away from county work and operations. However, that motion failed when put to a vote, with Isenhower, Beatty and Hunsucker voting against it.

“This, to me, is an atypical situation,” Hunsucker said. “We are voting on something that goes to the core of our society. We are called leaders in this society, and this is a time to lead…If I don’t stand up for this, I’m letting my God down and family down.”

Hunsucker finished his comment to a standing ovation and cheers from throughout the large courtroom. Isenhower then motioned that the board support the resolution, and it was approved.

For the complete story and comments from the 32 citizens who spoke, read the O-N-E’s story in print on Wednesday.