RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Pastors on Tuesday called on North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to defend that state's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the face of lawsuits from same-sex couples in the state and around the country.
When McCrory ran for governor in 2012, he supported the state amendment that defined marriage as between a man and woman. But the socially moderate Republican governor has said little on recent lawsuits challenging the ban.
On the steps of the old Capitol building, about 30 people from the North Carolina Pastors Network rallied. The group referred to rulings that have overturned gay marriage bans across the country as judicial tyranny.
The group is also sending McCrory a petition asking him to use his executive powers to defend the amendment that was approved by 61 percent of voters in 2012.
Since then, several same sex-couples have sued in North Carolina.
The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia has heard oral arguments over the same-sex ban in that state and is expected to issue a ruling soon. Gay rights groups believe a ruling from the 4th Circuit will affect lawsuits in states covered by the appeals court. They are North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland, which is the only state among the five that allows same-sex marriage.
A ruling against the amendment would hurt North Carolina's hard-fought traditional marriage victory, said the Rev. Patrick Wooden, senior pastor of Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh.
"People have spoken loud and clear," Wooden said. "We said in this state that we do not want marriage in the state of North Carolina redefined."
McCrory's office did not offer a response to the petition Tuesday.