Billy Graham, the famed evangelist who has been spiritual advisor to several US presidents, has come out publicly in favor of North Carolina's anti-gay Amendment One.
The 93-year-old Baptist minister is not known for taking strong political stances previously but has decided to campaign for passage of a ballot initiative that seeks to add a ban of same-sex marriages and civil unions to the North Carolina constitution.
Graham has purchased full-page ads that will appear in 14 newspapers over the weekend. Voters go to the polls on May 8.
'At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage,' Graham writes in the advertisement. '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.'
The legislation would ban the state from recognizing civil unions, strip away domestic partner benefits and could eliminate legal protections for all unmarried couples in the state.
The state's governor, Beverly Perdue, is against the legislation and says children of unmarried couples could lose their health benefits if Amendment One were to pass.
Graham is in frail health and rarely makes public appearances these days. the ads were paid for by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of which his son, Franklin Graham, is CEO and president. The son has spoken out on the radio in favor of Amendment One which also has the support of Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz.