Christian Action League
This week, Governor Beverly Perdue met with reporters for an end of year roundtable discussion of issues ranging from the state’s ailing budget to whether lawmakers should take up a social agenda. Three social issues were discussed by the Governor: a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, the privatization of liquor sales, and the current state of video sweepstakes.
According to the Greensboro News-Record, the Governor argues that North Carolina does not need a constitutional amendment to protect marriage as one man and one woman. She said, “I thought for years what we have now serves the purpose. I think it’s fairly clear, very clear, that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
“It may be clear that marriage according to North Carolina law is between a man and a woman, but it’s far from certain our current statutes to protect marriage are sufficient,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “The issue has never been whether what we have is sufficient, it’s whether under the current circumstances, with marriage under severe attack in the courts, if our current laws provide marriage with the best protection possible. The answer to this question is a given – absolutely not. So why would the Governor continue to stonewall on this issue – implying she would deny North Carolinians the right to decide for themselves whether they want to define marriage in a way that puts it beyond the reach of the courts?”
The new Republican majority have said the issue of a constitutional amendment to protect marriage is a priority with them. But the Governor warned the new leadership not to take up what she referred to as a “socially driven agenda”. She says she believes the people of this state expect them to solve “core problems” such as “jobs and good schools.”
“The new leadership needn’t seek to take up every social issue at once,” said Creech. “But the more weighty issues like a marriage amendment shouldn’t be placed on the back-burner.”
Privatizing Liquor Sales
When asked by the Greensboro News and Record whether the state’s liquor system should be privatized, the Governor responded that she is waiting to hear back from a consultant’s report either in late December or January.
Back in the Spring, the Governor ordered Valuation Research Corporation of Chicago to provide the Governor’s Budget Reform and Accountability Commission (BRAC) and the Legislative Joint Study Committee on ABC with information about the worth of the ABC system. But when it became apparent there was essentially no support for privatization, the study was halted. Even after the Governor signed historic ABC legislation to modernize the ABC system, she still stated she had not dismissed the possibility of privatizing liquor sales.
Since then, the Governor has resumed the study. Perdue said, “I have believed for a long time there has to be a real examination of privatization…I’m not quite there yet…I need to know what its worth. I need to know what its worth to the taxpayers, I need to know what kind of damage it would do to local governments and how you protect them.”
“ABC is not perfectly efficient, but if cutting government costs is the Governor’s top concern why would we even consider targeting an agency that is largely self-supportive and brings in nearly $300 million to state and local coffers every year?” asked Rev. Creech. “Any short term gains from privatization will be significantly be offset by the long term losses.”
The Greensboro News and Record also reported that the Governor personally finds video sweepstakes gambling “offensive,” but she wasn’t staunchly against legalizing the games as a revenue raiser for the state. She admitted she cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate in 2005 that approved the North Carolina Education Lottery and said she doesn’t have a problem with state-sanctioned gambling.
Speaking of the effort to kill video sweepstakes gambling in North Carolina, the Governor said, “This is a snake we haven’t beheaded yet.” The Governor was referring to a recent ruling by a Guilford County Judge that upheld the ban on video sweepstakes, but declared it unconstitutional in one subpart. This has resulted in some sweepstakes parlors remaining open by changing their games to comply with the ruling rather than shutting down.
Gambling promoter Chase Brooks vowed the industry may be “down for a few days,” but “it will survive.” It’s the industry’s ability to continuously find legal loopholes that frustrates Governor Perdue and causes her to consider legalizing video poker, regulating and taxing it.
The Governor also related a story about sending Secretary of Administration Britt Cobb into a video sweepstakes parlor to witness it first hand. Cobb said it was one of the saddest things he had ever seen and that it took him all night to get the smell of smoke off his clothes.
“The Governor is obviously conflicted in her remarks on this matter” said Rev. Creech. “She sees the harm it can cause for many, but she fails to see the immorality of the enterprise. Gambling is just plain stealing by mutual consent. We outlaw stealing and we need to keep up the fight to kill every vestige of this most insidious form of gaming out of our state.”