Tags:narrowly approved extending benefits to both same- and opposite-sex domestic partners of county employees. During that hearing, over 35 members of the public weighed in with their thoughts; about half of the speakers were for the measure and about half of them were against it.
Here's a look at some of what supporters and detractors had to say:
"I don't want my taxpayer money going for things like this. … I've been a resident of Buncombe County all my life. … Now I'm almost ashamed to tell anybody I am from Asheville. … What you do behind closed doors is your own business, but I don't think I should have to pay for what other people do."
— Fred English, Buncombe County resident
"We are not talking about a religious issue. We are not talking about a marriage issue. We are talking about an issue of health and protections and equality and basic human rights for employees and their partners."
— Lauren Biehl, Buncombe County Youth Services librarian
"This proposal is not a total voice of the people of Buncombe County. And it is not in the best interests to our biblical principles and moral standards in which the people and the nation, the people and the nation, were founded on."
— the Rev. Ronald Gates, Greater Works Church; president, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Asheville
"The equality of human experience is coming your way. Changes are being made nationally and need to be made locally, and you are on the cutting edge of setting that example. ... Buncombe County, the city of Asheville, show us that they're kind, not only to employees but to the taxpayers and the citizens."
— Yvonne Cook-Riley, part-time worker, Buncombe County Board of Elections
"The county has deep Christian roots, with a history of strong biblical values. … As a Bible-believing Christian … I believe the board would be giving a big slap to the face of the people of Buncombe County. We realize that the domestic-partner benefits policy and its wording is only a smoke screen for gay rights. You're re-defining our Judeo-Christian heritage and what a family is."
— the Rev. Wendell Runion, International Baptist Outreach Missions
"I understand the Scriptures in a different way than my fellow clergy have spoken of tonight. I'm very proud to be part of a tradition that, nationally, has spoken out that all people are equal of honor and respect. To respect someone, I don't just think we say, 'We're not going to say mean words to you,’ that ‘We're not going to cut you down.' But that we will offer the same benefits, the same privileges to everybody. … We're a community of many religious traditions and no religious traditions. We're a plural community. And it's in that plurality that we are the great county that we are."
— the Rev. Joe Hoffman, First Congregational United Church of Christ
"Whether it's between a man and a woman shacking up, or whether it's two men or women shacking up, in the word of God, God calls it sin. … Marriage is an institution ordained and recognized by God almighty, and he alone has the authority to set its parameters, and he has defined it as a union between one man and one woman. And those that chose to live contrary to this order, face a disease and riddled lifestyle. … They should not be supported with tax dollars from hard-working, God-fearing citizens. … Keep in mind, you will give an account to the sovereign Lord for your decision, with eternal consequences."
— the Rev. Phillip Wilson, Browns Chapel Baptist Church
"Anyone who lives in the county encounters county employees in a whole range of ways. And I would like to think that people who are literally, in some cases, putting their lives on the line for our community should know that the county has their back. ... I'm proud to see the county considering adopting a policy that is in line with best practices in the private sector and, increasingly, in the public sector."
— the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director, Campaign for Southern Equality