NC Amendment One -State Mandated Discrimination

This is what Family Values looks like

I want to start by thanking those people in my country and from around the world that have fought hard and sacrificed so much in the struggle for civil rights. In the 60s, so many people put their life, livelihoods, and family security on the line in order to lay the groundwork for equal rights for all.  The struggle for black Americans was and still is hard won. Because of the African-American community’s strength and determination, they secured and framed the civil rights argument for all of us. That being said, “black rights” do not equal “civil rights”; they are one application of civil rights.

There is much comparison and contrast of the gay rights movement to the movement of the 60s that secured civil rights for black Americans. Assumptions of comprehensive parallels have been made and offenses have been taken. Compounding the emotional mix are the perceptions of the attitudes of the two communities towards each other – there is a perceived (and I have no idea if it can be fact based) undercurrent of distaste in the African American community for the gay lifestyle. This comparison and contrast of the two groups does next to nothing good for anyone other than hindering the debate of the real issue, which is civil rights.

Merriam-Websters definition of civil rights: the nonpolitical rights of a citizen; especially : the rights of personal liberty guaranteed to United States citizens by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution and by acts of Congress. ( the link to read the amendments can be found in the Glossary here.)

Civil rights protects everyone like a huge umbrella. There is room for the black community, the gay community, the 99%ers (and the 1%ers) – any faction of American citizenry you can think of gets coverage. Amendment One, a legislatively referred amendment to the State’s Constitution that would restrict those rights in NC for gay people only.

Here is the language that will be on the ballot:

[] For [] Against
Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized by this State.

This amendment  does not recognize any form of same sex unions. It’s supporters want to make it clear that they not only do not accept gay marriage, but they don’t accept or respect civil unions registered in the state or anywhere else (currently the law allows regions to conduct their own civil union proceedings).

Adding exclusive and restrictive measures to a Constitution is anti-liberty, anti-freedom, and socially unjust. For many it equates to an erosion of family stability due to lack of opportunity, for others it may mean very real measures that challenge the civil union rights they have secured in their own regions or previous (out-of-state) residences. The impact would have negative ramifications for the gay community financially, legally, emotionally, and in making decisions about health, life, and death.

“Marriages” can be had anywhere and performed by anyone, espousing a myriad of beliefs in a smorgasboard of formats. The State cannot  (and is not attempting to) “take away”  a committed relationship or commitment ceremony, but those ceremonies – meaningful as they may be – do not address the real life issues that come up around the logistics of sharing a life and family.

Supporters of the amendment cite “tradition”, morality, or the fact that the state is not equipped to deal with the issue legally. They frame it as allowing the citizenry of North Carolina to decide what the definition of marriage is. Legislating morality is a dangerous precedent since morality is a contested concept that lies in the eye of the beholder. In this case supporters find gay unions immoral, the opponents find discriminating against minorities as immoral.

Legislating to preserve “tradition” means legislating to preserve a snapshot in time you really preferred. The definition of marriage has continually changed in human history and American history; it can be different for every couple, depending on how they have defined it for themselves. Marriage has been about property ownership, inheritance rights, family preservation, social status, financial gain, citizenship, reproduction, religion, romance, obligation, convenience, punishment, spite, genetics, and control (to name a few). Marrying for love is a relatively new thing, so this yoke of “tradition” assumes a snapshot in time of what they want marriage to be for everyone (forever!). Supporters want to freeze that preferred “tradition” for all of posterity.

The strongest argument is the one that frames it as a state’s rights issue. That argument would be strong if it weren’t for the “equal protection under the law” portion of the United States Constitution. The precedent has been established, and North Carolina is obligated to follow it.

I empathize with people who want to preserve their traditions, within our own communities, we are are free to assemble, make associations, clubs, churches, or any grouping of people that share moral codes, traditions, by-laws or whatever they please. That law is on the books right now and anyone can exercise those rights. No one is preventing the supporters of this amendment from forming a “Man and Woman Unions Only” club and following or enforcing their preferred moral code. The folks who did that for the rest of us agreed on a document that founded our government. Unless we can again get a national consensus on an amendment, we must insist upon upholding equal protection for all couples, all families, and all kinds of people.

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5 thoughts on “NC Amendment One -State Mandated Discrimination

  1. Patricia Niemas says:

    The photo at the top of your article LOOKS LIKE my daughter, daughter-in-law, and (some of) my grandchildren…beloved all…and LOOKS LIKE love. Thank you for showing the world the commitment our family shares.

  2. lokywoky says:

    “Traditional” marriage. What a joke! I had a compilation of the differing definitions of ‘marriage’ that were taken just from the Bible. Marriage between one man and several women. Marriage between one man and a woman and several (up to several hundred) concubines. Marriage between a man and his wife. And if his brother died, his brothers wife as well. Marriage between a soldier and a conquered woman/slave after he raped her. Marriage between a rich woman and a poor man so he could get her money (never happened the other way around). And if the marriage happened – the guy got all the money and the woman immediately lost it all. Marriage between two people who didn’t even know one another so that a family feud could be settled. Or some lands could be joined together.

    Yup. Traditional marriage. No thanks! These bozos don’t know what they are talking about.

    Even in this country up until the beginning of the twentieth century, traditional marriage worked like this:
    a man and a woman got married. Immediately, everything the woman owned became the property of the man. Including the woman herself. If she earned any money – it belonged to him. If she had a child – it belonged to him. If for some reason – he decided to divorce her – she was thrown out in the street with just the clothes on her back. She was entitled to nothing – even if the house, the money and everything in the household had been hers before the marriage, it was all now his. Even if HE was the unfaithful one, even if he beat her. Everything belonged to him.

    That is a “traditional” marriage too. Want to have one of those anyone?

    I don’t.

    I would rather have a new kind of marriage. One where two people who love and respect each other decide to join together and make a family. Note that I said two PEOPLE.

    And furthermore – I believe that it should be a state license for them to get. It should not be a religious matter at all. If the couple want a religious ceremony – they can have one also. It is optional. (After all, that is how it was ‘traditionally’ done in England – you had a civil ceremony at the magistrates office first – then went to the Church where all the guests were waiting and had a wedding!)

    Ha!

    • Amy Meier says:

      Thank you for illustrating my point! I appreciate all of this… except the “bozo” comment. Even if I agree about a disparaging comment in the comment section, I must discourage the name calling. “Bozo” is pretty mild, but I want to be consistent. You have lot’s of great supporting material without it!

  3. lokywoky says:

    Sorry, I will try to do better. 😦

  4. […] seems that this is another case, like birth control, like austerity, like DOMA – in which the Republican establishment says that they are all about American values of democracy, […]

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