Rev. Billy Graham on Wednesday encouraged the residents of North Carolina to vote for Amendment One, a ballot initiative that would define marriage as solely between a man and a women in the state’s constitution.
Graham, a Christian evangelical, is one of the most influential religious figures in the United States.
“Watching the moral decline of our country causes me great concern,” he said in a statement on his website. “I believe the home and marriage is the foundation of our society and must be protected.”
“At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage,” Graham continued. “The Bible is clear — God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote for the marriage amendment on Tuesday, May 8. God bless you as you vote.”
His son and daughter have also voiced their support of the amendment.
North Carolina law already restricts marriage to opposite sex couples, but an amendment to the state’s constitution would protect the law from legal challenges. It would also prohibit same sex civil unions and domestic partnerships.
Opponents of the proposed amendment have said that it could render domestic violence laws invalid for unmarried couples and disrupt child custody cases because it states that marriage between a man and women is the “only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized.”
After Ohio passed a similar marriage amendment, some judges dropped domestic violence charges in cases involving unmarried couples. The Ohio Supreme Court later ruled in 2007 that the marriage amendment did not invalidate domestic violence laws for unmarried men and women.