Last Thursday marked the beginning of One-Stop Early Voting across the state of North Carolina.
North Carolina and I have always had sort of a love/hate relationship, with myself being far more progressive than the very vocal majority in the state. While I love the good times and memories made with friends and family, my education, and the beauty of the state, it never ceases to amaze me with the amount of hate, bigotry and intolerance across the over 500 mile expanse (see a return to segregation, racism in restaurants, homophobia, and racism in general).
The support of Amendment One is no exception. (Note: I do believe there is a lot of love in North Carolina, however those who express hate seem to be the loudest)
For those of you unaware, Amendment One is a proposed constitutional amendment to the North Carolina constitution. It states (as on the ballot): “Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”
Those in favor of the amendment state that this is a way to solidify the already in place ban on gay marriage, and nothing more. Many point to religious texts to prove their opinion being just (apparently forgetting that not all people in North Carolina subscribe to their or any religion, and also forgetting the separation of church and state we have).
Through their support I have seen countless Letters to the Editor and comments vilifying gay people. Comments that use hateful, bigoted and homophobic words and messaging, and comments that are just blatantly false (like the woman seen here in the comments section of this article saying her pastor would be sued if this amendment did not pass).
Before we get to why gay people should have every right under the law as their straight counterparts, let’s just for a second remove them from the argument.
Gay marriage is sadly already banned in North Carolina. This amendment does not change that. While it will certainly make it much harder for the law to ever be overturned or for gay couples to get any sort of rights themselves or with their partners, as it is gay marriage is illegal regardless of the outcome of this amendment on May 8th.
Amendment One does, however, have many immediate implications for straight couples right off the bat. This amendment states the only “domestic legal union” will be marriage between a man and a women. It means domestic partnerships are out. It means civil unions are dunzoed. It means nearly 1 million straight people in North Carolina will suddenly have their relationships mean nothing under the law. It weakens protections for domestic violence victims, as how can you be the victim of domestic violence, when your relationship isn’t viewed as domestically legal? It has the ability to hurt tens of thousands of children who come from homes where their parents aren’t married, as certain parents may lose parental rights, which could lead to Medicaid costs being stripped from their children.
And honestly, we don’t know exactly all the implications that could arise from this one sentence amendment, but I guarantee none of them will be good.
Besides the social aspects of the amendment, let’s take a minute and think of the economic impact. North Carolina has consistently been one of the best places to start a business over the years, and has recently become highly attractive to the movie industry. Why would Hollywood, which for the most part embraces the gay community, want to come to a state which has solidified its hatred of it in their constitution? Why would a Fortune 500 company want to set up shop in North Carolina when they might not be able to provide healthcare benefits to same-sex couples and domestic partners? (Something which more and more large companies are doing) How will already in place businesses attract intelligent, qualified candidates to relocate to North Carolina, knowing that immediately a segment of the population has less rights than another? How will large Metropolitan cities, like Charlotte and Raleigh attract government workers as they will no longer be allowed to provide benefits to same sex couples? How are our amazing universities going to continue to recruit diverse students to attend them?
Even without all these far-reaching and terrible consequences of this amendment, and if you want to learn more please go here or here, the North Carolina constitution should be used to give people more rights, not strip rights away from them. We’ve sadly seen this before in North Carolina with an earlier marriage amendment which stated: “All marriages between a white person and a negro, or between a white person and a person of negro descent to the third generation inclusive, are hereby forever prohibited.” That was added to the North Carolina constitution in 1875 and wasn’t eliminated from it until 1971. I hope most people these days recognize that as an embarrassing footnote on our history. Let’s not add the mistake of constitutionally banning gay marriage to our ever expanding embarrassing footnotes (see segregation, John Edwards, Jesse Helms, the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats, etc.)
Being gay is not a choice. If you aren’t aware of that now, then I weep for you. There have been hundreds of animal species who have displayed gay behavior that have been witnessed by humans (and I am sure the number is much, much larger). However, only one species displays homophobia, and that’s us. People who are gay should be able to enjoy every right straight people have when entering into a loving relationship. Marriage can be a beautiful partnership, with many benefits both mentally, physically and fiscally (in the form of tax and legal benefits). If we’re so concerned with the “sanctity” of marriage maybe we should ban divorce in our constitution, since the national rate is right at 50 percent. Or maybe we should ban celebrities getting married. Both of these things are contributing to the downfall of marriage, letting a loving gay couple is not. Not letting people enter into domestic partnerships and civil unions hurts marriage, as it can cause people to rush into a marriage for all of the wrong reasons (eg. tax breaks instead of true love and partnership).
Many people in favor of Amendment One have used religion to validate their points. Obviously not realizing our separation of church and state or freedom of religion (or lack of religion for that matter). I value that separation and the freedom of religion in the United States enormously. However, I can certainly appreciate the positives of religion (the sense of a community and a sense of belonging, etc.), and wanting to live your life in a moral and just way. I can’t, however, stand the cherry-picking which occurs when using the Bible to validate discriminating against a whole group of people, while ignoring passages condoning polygamy, calling a menstruating woman unclean, calling for men who are not circumcised to be exiled, or calling for those who commit adultery to be put to death, etc. (please realize I could go on and on and on with this). I am by no means a Biblical scholar, though through my teachings and readings I always found Christ to be a figure who spoke of love for all of God’s people. Case in point I present to you what Paul the apostle said in 1 Corinthians 13:
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
So I implore you, residents of North Carolina, let us vote for love.
ETA: “No on Amendment One” ads rolled out this morning and can be viewed here. Please take a few minutes to watch them and if you are in support of what they’re doing donate some money to the cause so we can do the final two week push leading up to Primary Day.
I have made mention of my opposition of Amendment One previously, and also referenced people in my hometown who were ignorant on the subject. Well it appears we have another winner!
This Letter to the Editor (which can be found here with all comments) popped up this morning. It made me angry. Here is the text:
Homosexuality is a choice and a sin
I want to know why The News Herald supports homosexuality. The April 19 editorial does just that. The author of the editorial did not even have the bravery to sign his or her name. It is signed the “Winston-Salem Journal”.
I am sure the framers of the Constitution did not have homosexuality in mind when they wrote the Constitution. Else, they would have put drunkards, gamblers and thieves in a protected class. The blacks should realize that they do not have a choice in being black and the Constitution does protect them, but the homosexuals have chosen to live that way. They do not have the right to take taxpayer money to support their sin. Heterosexual couples get tax breaks; should homosexual couples get a tax break also?
The people of the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorra were destroyed because of sin and wrong choices. Imagine Minneapolis/St. Paul being destroyed because of sin. People who drink too much, steal and make excuses for it should not expect the same treatment as the average American citizen. I would not let a drunkard drive my car. Is that discrimination? I would not have a homosexual teach children. Is that discrimination?
It is an old trick to use the Constitution to promote bad beliefs. The Constitution protects religion and this is a moral and religious belief that homosexuals are going to hell. This is believed by thousands of Protestants and Catholics. Many other religions disavow homosexuality. They do not refer to “lifestyles” and “domestic partnerships” but rather to sin and punishment for it and salvation through repentance.
We should pray for them. In schools the children should be taught to pray for them instead of making fun of them. Making fun is a type of bullying. I respect all homosexuals and pray for them, but I draw the line when voting for them or having them teach the youth of America in our public school. Promoting laws that support homosexuality is attacking the protection of religion guarantee in the First Amendment to the Constitution. We need the Marriage Amendment.
You can see why it made me angry. When I get angry I like to get out my poison pen and put people who are being hateful and ignorant in their place. So below you can find how I spent my lunch break today. I’m sure I won’t change this person’s mind, however I know I can’t if I don’t try.
First, I have to say I’m not sure I have EVER read such a hateful, bigoted, homophobic, racist piece ever published in a newspaper with the author’s name attached. I suppose a level of kudos is in order to you, Mr. Williams, for having the intestinal fortitude to post something of this nature with your name and city of residence, that the entire world has the potential to see.
For your first point, homosexuality is not a choice. Did you choose to be straight? (And I apologize for assuming you’re straight if that is not the case. As we have come to know sometimes the biggest homophobes are hiding their own sexuality [see: Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, Kathryn Lehman, etc.]). I know I didn’t choose to be straight anymore than I chose to be female or white. All things that happened biologically. If homosexuality is a choice, than why do hundreds of animal species exhibit it, many who do not have the cognitive abilities to make choices in the way humans can? And for their purposes, when reproducing is often key (something that is not the end all, be all for humans) why would those in the animal kingdom choose to be gay? Newsflash: They don’t.
I am no Biblical scholar, however I do know enough about the Bible to know there are many aspects of it that are cherry-picked. Including passages about polygamy, killing adulterers, not eating pork or shellfish, calling menstruating women unclean, saying women should cover their heads in church, etc. If you are a strict follower of the Bible, then I must come to the conclusion that you follow ALL of what is in there, right? Not just using select passages to cover up your own intolerance. I also would imagine, since you want to use your religion as basis to add to the constitution, that you would like these issues addressed in there as well, right?
I don’t have access to The News Herald in print, so can’t speak to the editorial you reference, as it is not online. However, I would guess that it was an editorial done by the editorial board at The Winston-Salem Journal, and not by just one individual (hence why there is no name). There is a Freedom of Press in our country, so just as the News Herald has every right to publish your hateful rhetoric, they also have the right to publish editorials and articles that may not be in accordance to your views.
When the United States declared its independence from British control, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “All men are created equal.” He didn’t preface is by saying “white men” or “straight men” or “rich men”, etc. He said ALL men. That helped with the framework of our constitution, giving rights to protect all men, and when those rights have been put into question we have the ability to amend it (see: The 13th Amendment, 14th Amendment and 19th Amendment).
Comparing gays to “drunkards, gamblers and thieves,” whose behaviors are all illegal is disgusting and inaccurate. Gay people are breaking no laws, whether you want them to have marriage rights or not. Having a different sexual orientation than you does not pose a threat on your life. And once again, it is not a choice. Also, I’m not sure what era your schooling occurred, but referring to black people or African Americans as “the blacks” is not politically correct. It is offensive, and quite honestly borderline racist.
You say they (gay people) “do not have the right to take taxpayer money to support their sin.” Newsflash, I bet a lot of them already do! That’s right! Gay people go to college and are eligible for federal grants and loans. Gay people get old and collect Social Security. Gay people buy houses and get mortgage tax breaks. Gay people have kids (yes, that does happen) and can deduct them on their taxes. Gays can now serve openly in the military, being able to receive military benefits and housing (things tax dollars go to). The list goes on. If you have a problem with gay people taking “taxpayer money to support their sin” then I suggest you move elsewhere. You do not have to self-identify with your sexual orientation to receive these kinds of benefits. It is true that by marrying they would receive more tax benefits, however, I, unlike you, do not see that as a bad thing at all.
The United States is full of sin (adultery, murder, rape, incest, theft, etc.) yet we’ve managed to survive as a Union for hundreds of years. You think letting gay people marry would end that? I guess I have overlooked their obvious super power capabilities.
Once again equating people who steal and drink too much to gays is disgusting and insulting. Letting someone who is intoxicated drive your vehicle and having your child be taught by a gay teacher are too completely separate things and it is mind-boggling to compare the two. I’m not sure if you have children or not, but I bet at some point in their lives they will be taught by someone who is gay and you, and your child, will probably never know! And yes, not wanting your child taught by a gay individual is called discrimination (it would be like not wanting your child to be taught by someone of a different race, religion, or sex…actually religion is a choice though, whereas the others are not, but I digress). Good thing for you, you can home-school your children with all of your own “values.”
You are wrong in your assessment of the United States Constitution. The Constitution does give citizens the freedom of religion. Which means you have the right to practice any religion you want or no religion at all and not be persecuted for it. It does not mean the government has the right to persecute a certain population because of religious teachings. Also, not all Christians (or Catholic and Protestants) believe being gay is a sin. Many religions, and many Christian denominations, welcome gay people into their churches. Episcopalians allow gays to serve openly in the church. Please do not lump all Christians (or all religions) into your backwards beliefs. My core values I have taken from Christianity are love, tolerance and acceptance. Three things you certainly are not preaching with this letter.
You are welcome to pray for whomever you want (in fact I will pray for you and your intolerance). I do agree with you on the fact that gay people should not be made fun of or bullied. No one should be targeted or ridiculed for being different. However, you also obviously don’t “respect” gay people. Vilifying an entire group of people with a public editorial is not showing respect. Saying that they’re going to Hell is not showing respect.Comparing them to “drunkards” and “thieves” is not showing respect.
Promoting laws that allow gays the same rights as straights is protecting the Constitution. I don’t want laws made based on some wacko religion I don’t believe in. I also believe our Founding Fathers when they say “All men are created equal.”
Lastly, it is clear you don’t understand what this Amendment actually does. Gay marriage is illegal in North Carolina. This ban doesn’t change that. Gay couples will not be able to marry today or May 9th regardless of the outcome of this amendment. What this amendment DOES do is write into our Constitution that the only legal recognized domestic union is marriage between a man and a woman. Ending domestic partnerships and civil unions for straight couples. It would make it difficult for domestic violence protections (as seen in Ohio) because how can you prove domestic violence if your boyfriend is abusing you, if the only recognized (by the law) domestic union is marriage (the solution to the problem in Ohio? Basically telling women that in order to receive domestic violence protections they had to marry their abuser…classy). Children who come from unmarried parents could see their medical benefits stripped as it would limit rights to unmarried parents. The consequences go on and on and on, and I’m note even getting into the potential economic impact (a huge number of CEOs with businesses in the state have come out vocally against this amendment) If you think this is really only about gay marriage then you are simply being obtuse.
There was another marriage amendment on the North Carolina constitution ratified in 1875 banning interracial marriage. It wasn’t overturned until 1971 (and was only overturned because we adopted a new constitution). Back in the 1800s people in the South were saying things oddly similar to what you’re saying now, that being African American was a sin and we had the right to discriminate against them. This stance turned out to be on the wrong side of history. Let us not add to our already spotty past with even more intolerance.
Bottom line, you can be against gay marriage for religious beliefs and STILL find plenty of reasons to VOTE AGAINST this amendment which will affect MILLIONS of North Carolinians whether they are gay or not.
Game. Set. Match.