Lead author of N.C. anti-gay marriage amendment dies at 74
North Carolina state Sen. James Forrester, of Gaston County, died Monday at the age of 74. Forrester was the lead author of a constitutional amendment that, if passed by voters in May, would ban same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships in North Carolina.
Forrester had introduced the amendment in every legislative session for the last decade, and his efforts drew the ire of LGBT-equality advocates in recent months after he successfully shepherded the measure onto the ballot.
Forrester had called the city of Asheville a “cesspool of sin” and claimed gay men have shorter lifespans.
“At least 20 years is taken off a homosexual’s life, if they practice homosexuality, due to the increased death rate from AIDS, and hepatitis, and all of the other related factors to that. That doesn’t seem to discourage them from practicing this unhealthy lifestyle,” he said.
Through the controversy, the Raleigh News & Observer notes Forrester was suffering from health problems, though the senator declined to elaborate.
An email from the Forrester family announced the senator’s death mid-day Monday.
”It all happened suddenly,” the email read. “Yesterday, they went to the mountains and Jim lost strength in his legs. The doctor advised him to come back to Caromont for some tests.
“We all know how ill he has been, but he continued to work in the Senate. He told Mary Frances (his wife) that he wanted to go out with his boots on and support the causes in which he believed to his last breath.”
The North Carolina GOP released a statement as well:
“We are deeply saddened to hear of Senator Forrester’s death and send our prayers out to his wife, Mary Frances, and all of his family. Those of us who have worked in politics with Senator Forrester for years know him as an honorable and kind man who always stood for what he believes and fought to defend the values that made North Carolina and America great. Jim Forrester’s life is a model of public service, as a family physician, as a general in the national guard, Gaston County Commissioner and for the last 22 years as Gaston County’s senior State Senator. He will truly be missed by those of us in his GOP family.”