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Trying to take care of my little piece of the planet

NC Amendment One: Against

I promised a dear old friend that I would try and articulate my opposition to Amendment One, on our North Carolina ballot next Tuesday. Here goes:

As I understand it, the amendment will read as follows: “A 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.” That’s our choice in North Carolina next Tuesday. How we decide will affect every state citizen for the foreseeable future; some in a small way, others in a life-changing one. First, I would point out that those of us who are heterosexual have always enjoyed the benefits of this legal recognition and will certainly continue to do so. Regardless of the outcome of this vote, our unions are sanctioned and secure. No threat to our marriages exists. So, given that most voters in NC are heterosexual, why should we bother to vote to ensure something we already enjoy? Since no one else’s relationship enhances my own, nor cheapens it, why should I vote to deny legal rights to others that I am already guaranteed? The only answer I have heard expressed is that a union between any two humans of the same sex is against the will of God. Thus, those of us who are comfortably straight should vote to restrict access to our privileges from our friends, neighbors and family who are gay, because God wants marriage to be between a man and a woman. That’s the ONLY argument I’ve heard in favor of Amendment One. So unless someone can provide me with data that the proponents of the amendment have any argument other than: “homosexuality is a sin”. I’m going with that as my reason for the existence of this ballot measure.

OK…..admittedly I am not a religious person. But I realize that most people are, and that there are long-standing reasons why most people believe in a supreme being, or beings. And frankly, I agree that religion serves a beneficial purpose. In such religious belief, is grounded our universal repugnance of lying, cheating, murder, etc. Yes, there is much useful and common ground among the world’s religions, but there are clearly legions of differences. Some trivial, some profound. As we all know, this nation was founded due to religious differences with the Church of England and others, in an attempt to separate the religious beliefs of a citizenry, which vary from faith to faith, from the civil laws governing those same citizens. Because, as our founding fathers understood, those laws should not vary, but should treat all citizens equally.

I was taught as a child that each individual is guaranteed the same rights under the law. Well, as I came to appreciate later…..not exactly. It wasn’t until the 15th amendment that all races were supposedly allowed to vote, and not until the 19th amendment that the same privilege was extended to women. So now in 2012, in my beloved home of North Carolina, some want to legislate inequality again. Yes, that’s the core of this: codifying inequality. Because this is not about belief, an individual is and will continue to be allowed to believe ANYTHING he or she wishes, and to be a member of a group that espouses the same beliefs. No constitutional amendment changes that right. This is the murky area we have inherited when ‘marriage’ has both religious AND civil significance. Sadly, this amendment, by use of the phrase ‘only domestic legal union’ eliminates all other legal alternatives; thus the religious view of marriage currently promoted by the political majority, would also be the legal definition of marriage, since no civil alternatives are allowed; a crucial point.

And this amendment will have additional indirect legal consequences, for gay and straight alike. Again: “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” The key words are ‘only’ and ‘legal’. Under such language, long-term relationships, gay and straight, and the children raised in those families may lose the protection that the members of married families enjoy. Why? What have they done wrong? Why should they lose hospital visitation privileges? Domestic violence protection? Inheritance rights? Tax fairness? Yes, it MAY not come to this, those provisions may be struck down in court battles, but numerous NC legal scholars from our state’s law schools feel that it may. And even if the rights of those gay or non-married couples and their kids are upheld after a court fight, who pays for those legal battles in support of inequality? We do. Every citizen of this state will foot a part of the bill for legal fees.

Perhaps more importantly, we ALL will feel the impact of the loss of talent that passage of this amendment will likely force. Think about it. Do you really care about the sexual preference of your brain surgeon? Your fireman? The electrician who wires your house? I doubt it. You want competence. So please don’t support an amendment that tells a significant percentage of talented people of both sexes: ‘Look elsewhere. NC doesn’t want you.” Personally, I want smart people taking care of me.

In addition to listening to lots of thoughtful people, like pediatricians, and CEOs and law school deans; I’m listening to my heart. And my heart says: we are all entitled to our beliefs, but we are also all entitled to equal protection under the law. Rejection of this amendment allows both. But passage of this amendment, and legislating inequality does not.

Please vote against Amendment One.

One Response to “NC Amendment One: Against”

  1. Well said! It’s a “no brainer” to me….

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