Joe Hackney; Elizabeth Dole; Paul Ridgeway & American Civil Liberties Union of N.C.

May 30, 2007
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In a show of political power, N.C. House Speaker Joe Hackney, an Orange County Democrat, tabled a bill that calls for a public vote to add a same-sex marriage ban to the state constitution. On May 22, the House Rules Committee sent the measure to the House floor for a vote, but Hackney sent the bill to the House Judiciary I committee, likely killing it until the next legislative session in 2009. (For more on other bills' progress, see "Legislative update: After the crossover.")

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Our ineffectual U.S. Senator, Elizabeth Dole, finally does something—and it's completely useless. Dole was one of the sponsors of an amendment to the Immigration Reform Act that would make English the national language of the United States and prohibit the federal government from communicating in any other language—just in case anyone is unclear about what language we speak in the United States.

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In a victory for religious freedom, Wake County Superior Court judge Paul Ridgeway ruled on May 24 that people of non-Christian faiths must be allowed to use religious texts other than the Christian Bible when being sworn in as jurors or witnesses in state court proceedings. Ridgeway's ruling comes after a protracted court battle mounted by the American Civil Liberties Union of N.C., which also deserves credit for the recent decision. In July 2005, the ACLU filed a lawsuit seeking a court order clarifying the phrase "Holy Scriptures"—North Carolina general statutes require judges to use the Holy Scriptures when administering oaths. A Superior Court judge dismissed that case, but in January, the state court of appeals ruled that the case should go forward. Ridgeway's decision brings the case to a close: "The highest aim of every legal contest is the search for the truth. To require pious and faithful practitioners of religions other than Christianity to swear oaths in a form other than the form most meaningful to them would thwart the search for truth."

Know about a local hero or zero? E-mail tips to heroesandzeros@indyweek.com.

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