I currently reside in North Carolina and today I am furious with the people of this state. On Tuesday, elections were held. Mostly political primaries for various state and federal positions, but there was one other item nestled on the back of my ballot. It was a vote on a state constitutional amendment that was touted by its supporters as protecting traditional marriage. Primarily it was aimed as outlawing gay marriage, but that was not all it did.
The most prominent part of this amendment would ban gay marriage by using the now familiar blather about "defining marriage as between a man and a woman." This wasn't the only thing it did, but we'll get to that shortly. One of many things about this amendment that is idiotic, goes to the fact that gay marriage is already illegal by law in the state of NC. Which begs the question of why there needed to be an amendment to the state constitution to double secret probation ban it? Is that like installing a second deadbolt to give extra protection from the rampaging horde of homosexuals who are coming to make you marry them?
I will never understand this. Oh, I get why homosexuality makes some uncomfortable. That's a no-brainer! It's different and doesn't fit our Hollywood spun fantasies of romance and marriage. But so what? A lot of things weren't 'normal' until they were. And at the end of the day, this had very little to do with heterosexual couples. The gay community isn't trying to force straight people to be gay! Allowing gay marriage will have no effect on your straight relationship at all. This isn't really about preserving the so called "tradition of marriage". A tradition that at times, not so far in the past, was as much about property, alliances and preserving the family name as any modern idea of romance. That's right, this noble tradition also brings with it a history of female subjugation too. But we prefer to forget those inconvenient facts, don't we?
This whole issue has less to do with preserving some fantasy ideal of marriage and more to do with ostracizing people you don't like or that make you feel uncomfortable. I understand that homosexuality can be uncomfortable to some and even offensive. But so frelling what?! There are all sorts of things that offend me, including that sanctimonious, glassy eyed, smiling blonde bobblehead who I watched babble gleefully about the passage of Amendment 1 Tuesday night. But, while the idea of administering therapeutic shock therapy did flit through my mind, I never thought that I should fight to outlaw her right to stand there and spout idiotic statements. You see I have this crazy idea that all Americans are created equal and that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Radical, I know. Come to think of it, I must have read that somewhere.
But, as I hinted at earlier, this amendment was more far reaching than just continuing to treat gay Americans as less worthy. It also contained language that I doubt many who voted for it even looked at. They just heard that it banned gay marriage and in their rush to limit the rights of their fellow citizens they failed to notice what else its passage would do. But don't listen to me. Here's an excerpt from a paper on the potential legal impact of this amendment written by four professors from the UNC School of Law. Emphasis is mine.
"Taken as a whole, the bill’s language is sufficiently vague, and its scope significantly unclear, that it would enmesh our courts in years of litigation to untangle its appropriate meaning. Moreover the eventual result of judicial interpretation of the Amendment would be uncertain. It could, however, be interpreted to upend completely the very minimal legal rights, obligations, and protections now available to unmarried couples, whether same-sex or opposite-sex."
Such as . . .
"The Amendment could prevent courts from enforcing private agreements between unmarried couples, and end-of-life arrangements, such as wills, trusts and powers of attorney executed by unmarried couples; unsettle current custody law; invalidate rights and protections currently provided to unmarried couples under North Carolina’s domestic violence laws; undercut municipalities’ decisions to recognize domestic partnerships and undermine private employers’ efforts to attract top employees to North Carolina by providing employee benefits to domestic partners. It certainly will spur litigation, discourage same-sex and opposite-sex unmarried couples from living and working in North Carolina"
So congratulations North Carolina! Not only have you redundantly banned gay marriage, but you have likely stripped the legal rights and protections from heterosexual unmarried couples as well! Do you feel proud and more complete as a human being now that you have not just kept in place restrictions on those icky gay people but also removed protections from ALL unmarried couples? What other group can you think of to strip of rights? Anyone . . . Anyone?