My views on North Carolina’s proposed constitutional amendment certainly have been informed by the fact that I am gay and have born witness to the struggles that many gay people from all walks of life have faced. However I am not Voting No Against Amendment One simply because I am gay. Secondly, you won’t find any partisan bashing herein although I am a registered Democrat who ran for statewide office on the party ballot four years ago. Thirdly, you won’t read any discussion about my personal faith: for the record I have served as a lay minister in a Christian church and both of my sons are Muslim. Fourthly, although I recognize the heartfelt intensity of feelings on both sides of this divisive issue, my bias is that North Carolinians have much more important issues that we should be debating than Amendment One. Fifthly, I am as staunch a defender of keeping government out of houses of worship as I am of keeping houses of worship out of government. And lastly, when I use the term “gay” I do so as shorthand for the broader LGBT community.
Caveats aside let’s move onto the main line item on the ballot in North Carolina’s May 8th primary election: the proposed constitutional amendment on which voters vote Yes or No:
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.
It is my understanding that the proposed measure would amend Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution by adding a new section:
Sec. 6. Marriage. Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.
I Voted Against Amendment One today. And I’d like to tell you why.
I Voted Against Amendment One because history has taught me that more innocent people have died at the intersection of Church and State than any other corner in history. Passage of Amendment One will have noxious consequences for those who believe they can ignore red lights.
I Voted Against Amendment One because it demeans, diminishes and humiliates me as it does your gay neighbors and relatives and friends. Passage of Amendment One will have noxious consequences for gay people and the communities in which we live.
I Voted Against Amendment One because its passage would send a chilling message to gay youth, a cohort that already commits suicide 400% more often than their heterosexual classmates. A crucial lifeline for gay teens is compromised by fear: the fear of coming out to his or her circle of friends. As members of the “what’s the big deal” generation they enjoy the benefit of strong peer support across what is America’s most inclusive generation ever. Passage of Amendment One will have noxious consequences for gay teenagers (and if you vote Yes your kids and grandkids will think you’re a dork.)
I Voted Against Amendment One because its passage would send a chilling message to closeted gay people in North Carolina. Like all gay North Carolinians they have no legal protections from being fired from their jobs, denied a job, kicked out of their homes and denied housing simply because of their sexual orientation. Passage of Amendment One will have noxious consequences for those gay people who live anxious lives in the shadows of our communities.
And I Voted Against Amendment One because its passage has unintended consequences detrimental to children, senior citizens, economic development, victims of domestic violence and straight couples having entered into civil unions.
If you plan to Vote For Amendment One take a pause. Have you considered that its passage will harm all of us: those like you who Vote For Amendment One and those like me Who Vote Against Amendment One? Here’s why. On May 8th after all the votes have been tallied and the commercials and radio ads and emails and texts and Tweets have ceased, those who Voted For Amendment One will have done so for naught.
Why? There are no winners from a law that threatens all and protects none. That’s the dirty little truth that cheapens an imbroglio hoisted upon us by politicians and pundits who generally don’t give a rat’s ass about us or the state of our State. I for one have much bigger fish to fry and have no interest in excluding anyone from the picnic table.
Admittedly I am an idealist who believes that we all have vastly more in common than we do traits and beliefs that distinguish us. I believe it is possible for the people of this state to demonstrate they can come together, give thanks and enjoy the fellowship that’s best accompanied by a down home meal of hush puppies, coleslaw, banana pudding, sweet tea and BB-Q regardless of their differences.
I don’t know a single person in North Carolina who doesn’t desire to pass along a better condition to the next generation- their kids, your children and grandkids and my sons. The campaigns being waged in opposition to and in favor of the amendment have made me harken back to that a proverb that my mom repeated to me time and time again as I was growing up in Greensboro: “North Carolina is a valley of humility situated between two peaks of conceit.”
Only the cynical man would choose conceit over humility.