Marriage equality is a complex issue with strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for varying opinions on the issue. After much thought and prayer, I have come to my own personal conclusion that we shouldn’t tell people who they can love or who they can marry. This wasn’t a decision I came to overnight, like my Republican colleague Rob Portman expressed recently on his own viewpoint. Last year, I opposed Amendment One because I was concerned about the negative consequences it could have on North Carolina families and our economy. The fabric of North Carolina and what makes our state so special is our families and our common desire for a brighter future for our children. No matter what your family looks like, we all want the same thing for our families – happiness, health, prosperity, a bright future for our children and grandchildren. Religious institutions should have religious freedom on this issue. No church or minister should ever have to conduct a marriage that is inconsistent with their religious beliefs. But I think as a civil institution, this issue’s time has come and we need to move forward. Jobs and the economy are the number one issue for me and for North Carolinians right now, and I’m not going to take my eye off that ball at a time when so many are still struggling.
Now is not the time to be putting up barriers to the right to vote, and I applaud the Justice Department’s decision to challenge the new voter access restrictions in North Carolina that would, among other things, cut off a week of early voting and end same day registration. We shouldn’t be giving everyday North Carolinians fewer opportunities to make their voices heard while we are giving corporations more opportunities to influence elections. Restricting access to this basic right is simply not in sync with our North Carolina values, and it goes against our state’s proud tradition of eliminating barriers to participation in the democratic process.
This government shutdown was completely unnecessary. Congress should have never gotten to the point where the government was shut down and on the verge of a default crisis, and no one should attempt to take a victory lap after tonight’s vote. However, I am glad the Senate passed a bipartisan plan to re-open the government and avert a default crisis that would have been disastrous for our economy and our middle class families. I wasn't elected to shut down the government or play political games, and it's time for Congress to stop manufacturing crises and get to work on a long-term, bipartisan and balanced plan to get our fiscal house in order, grow our economy and give certainty to families and business owners.
The leadership in the North Carolina General Assembly chose to force a sweeping anti-women’s health bill through with no public notice or transparency because they knew it wouldn't stand up to public scrutiny. Even Governor McCrory opposes this legislative sneak-attack. To me, these are not the values we hold in North Carolina. Instead of attacking women's health care, the General Assembly needs to turn its focus to the number one concern of North Carolinians – jobs and the economy.