GASTONIA, N.C. -- Supporters and opponents of the resolution that would have Gaston County Commissioners endorse the amendment one marriage proposal faced off Thursday night outside the Gaston County courthouse where the commission held a public hearing.

There was no trouble and both sides faced each other silently with no taunts or jeers.

Earlier, those opposed to the resolution staged a march through Gastonia with demonstrators wearing tape over their mouths claiming the resolution would silence their voices.

I am a gay American, said Ryan Smith, who was one of the marchers. I actually just got engaged to my partner so I am hoping to make sure that I can secure my rights and make sure I can get married here in North Carolina.

The so-called marriage protection amendment will be voted on statewide in May and states that marriage is to be between a man and a woman.

Outside the courthouse, Cathy Key stood with amendment supporters.

I believe that because of what the bible says and what God's word says and I just believe that's the way people should be, Key said.

Inside Commission Chambers it was civil too, as the public hearing went on for more than an hour.

Listeners responded to those who spoke--not with applause or boos--but rather with a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Pearl Floyd, who supports the commissioners endorsing the amendment, said, So I stand tonight in support of this amendment. I stand because I am the product of a man and a woman who loved one another.

On the opposing side, Robert Kellog, who helped organize the silent march, said, In this current climate of heightened sensitivities and polarizing views on this issue, this resolution promises to divide an already divided county.

The commission is scheduled to vote on the resolution of support on April 26.

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