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.