It took me a lot of time to get here — so much so that I hope it will have taken you considerably less time, as there’s very little of it left as I write these words.
The polls in North Carolina are opening in just a few hours, and if you’re planning to vote for Amendment 1, I have a favor to ask — please, hear me out. I appreciate that you’ve read this far, and hope you’ll read until the end, because you’re the one this is intended to address. I promise I’m not going to scold, shame or insult you, so please just stick around.
I was a coward for waiting this long. I was afraid if I wrote about it, there might be personal repercussions. I can only hope that’s not the case. One thing’s for sure — if I don’t write about it, there will definitely be personal repercussions. And if the citizens of this state pass Amendment 1, there will be a great many repercussions.
I’m not writing to lecture you about gay marriage, but I need to be honest with you, so that no one accuses me of having an ulterior motive — I’m fine with gay marriage. I support the notion of allowing any two consenting adults to marry, regardless of gender or orientation. But I’m not here to argue that with you.
What I feel you absolutely have to understand is, our disparate feelings on that topic have nothing to do with Amendment 1. So please, forget about gay marriage for a moment, and let’s instead focus on the amendment.
Here’s what we’ll see on the ballot today: 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. I know that “one man and one woman” part makes it seem like a gay marriage issue — and that’s the issue that the bill’s proponents are using to galvanize voters — but there’s a lot more at stake here.
What of civil unions? Domestic partnerships? These will no longer be recognized, which means the amendment can be used as a precedent to take away certain privileges and benefits.
For example, it could be used to take health benefits away from the child of an unmarried parent. It could be used to take custody away from a surviving parent if something happens to the other, so a child would be taken from a parent who’s been there with them their entire life, all because those parents never married. It could be used to force an elderly widower to remarry just to keep their legal protections, putting their other benefits at risk. It could be used to remove domestic violence protection from an unmarried woman. It could be used to strip visitation rights and decisionmaking privileges from unmarried partners.
It could be used to do all of these things and more bits of nasty, unjust actions against loving families who just don’t happen to fit the description of, “marriage between one man and one woman.” If you don’t believe me, please do some research, and look into the potential harm that can befall many North Carolina families — none of them gay — if we pass this amendment.
I know, you’re probably thinking, But there’s a difference between ‘could’ and ‘will.’ Fair enough. But why take the chance? Why possibly arm an immoral legislator or attorney with this sort of weapon? If it’s simply to prevent gay marriage in our state, think again — gay marriage is already illegal here.
That’s right — we could vote down the amendment, and everything would be just like it was before. No benefits being stripped from straight couples, but still no marriage for gay couples. You and I could go about our business, knowing we had done the right thing, and that we never had to argue our stances on gay marriage, as its status hadn’t changed.
If we pass the amendment, though, a lot will have changed — except the status of gay marriage. That will be the same, regardless. So why vote for this amendment under the auspices of halting gay marriage, when it’s already halted? Why use our state constitution to deny benefits to one class of people, when it’s not even necessary? Why set up our financially struggling state to spend millions of dollars and waste legislative resources to defend against a reaction that will surely become a litigious juggernaut? Most importantly, why give more power to our state government?
That last point ought to set off bells and whistles among conservatives — a vote for Amendment 1 is a vote for bigger government. It’s a vote for waste. It’s allowing our legislators to significantly overstep their bounds.
And for what? For the protection of the sanctity of marriage — something that isn’t even under attack. That’s just confusing the rite of marriage with the right of marriage.
Remember this — no one can take your personal definition of marriage away. There’s no need for the State Constitution to protect it. You have every right to go to any church, no matter what their beliefs. If you go to one that believes the Sacrament of Marriage is not to be shared with same-sex couples, I will not judge you. And those same-sex couples won’t take it away from you. Even if they enter into a union and call it “marriage,” it isn’t the same definition of the word that you and your church recognize. No one can take that away from you. Not gay couples, not couples getting married by a Justice of the Peace, not divorced people getting re-married, not even Kim Kardashian entering into whatever unholy union she sees fit to broadcast.
That’s the beauty of words having multiple meanings — whatever “marriage” means to someone outside your faith, is different from what it means to you. And it therefore can’t hurt you or your marriage anymore than people can hurt other Sacraments when they use the words “baptism,” “confirmation” or “communion” to mean something different.
The definitions are personal, and we don’t need the government to force them on us. Amendment One is wasteful and intrusive, and allows the government to far exceed its boundaries. Please vote it down, then watch as nothing bad happens as a result. Families will not come under attack, the Constitution will not be used to exclude a group, and the institute of marriage will not be weakened.
Does that really sound so bad?