LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Matter of Civil Rights, Not Marriage


Yesterday the citizens of North Carolina voted in favor of Amendment One to our North Carolina Constitution.  I do not plan to criticize any voter, but I have plenty of criticism of the media.  This amendment was referred to as an amendment to ban gay marriage and lumped NC in with 32 other states who have already banned gay marriage.  This amendment was far more than that.  Many citizens thought this to be an amendment that defines marriage between one man and one woman (at a time).  But it was far more than that.

To set the record straight, gay marriage is already banned BY LAW in the State of North Carolina.  The amendment goes much further than that by defining a marriage between one man and one woman as the only domestic LEGAL UNION that is recognized by the State.  This applies not only to same-sex couples, but to heterosexual couples living together without being married.  These civil unions have been recognized by employers to provide health care benefits to the partners and children of such unions.  All unions between gay couples (whether married in another state or not) and unions by heterosexual couples who choose not to marry are no longer recognized as legal unions.

The results of this amendment will be far-reaching.  The faculty of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Law School published an extensively researched paper when this amendment was presented, outlining the potential legal impact of passage of the amendment as it read in its final form.  I read the entire thirty-one page document which is very frightening indeed.


The amendment would remove civil rights now provided to gay partners no matter how long they may have been in a deeply committed and loving relationship.

Did we really want to take away the rights of these two women to determine the disposition of the remains of the other partner in case she died?
(photo from a anti-amendment Web site)

If you tell me there are ways to circumvent the obstacles to civil liberties contained in the amendment I must ask you why certain individuals should be forced to fight harder than others to obtain the same rights given others in the same area?  And why some civil rights are now forbidden to them by this amendment?

Did we really want to take the health care insurance from so many children of domestic unions?  (Oh, pardon me...these are no longer legal domestic unions.)

From a personal standpoint, why on earth does this matter so much to me?  After all, I've been married to the same man for forty years now.

This matters so much to me because we have amended our State Constitution to remove civil rights and not to promote them.  It grieves me to think that we are moving backward rather than forward; to limit rather than guarantee the rights of all of our citizens.

As you might imagine, the opinion pages of the newspapers have been filled with comments.  It is of interest that every single pro-amendment letter included the words "God" or "The Bible."  Honest...I looked at each one.  Every single pro-amendment television ad also included those words and many quoted scriptures.  It's always useful to find a good sound bite and "Protect the Sanctity of Marriage" was a winner.

I'm not criticizing the Holy Bible.  Remember, I was raised Southern Baptist.  I know the Bible quite well.  I can recite the names of the books of both the old and new testaments.  I was frequently a winner in the "sword drills" in church in which the quest was to find a given verse in the bible and quickly step forward.  I loved it.  I can recite hundreds of verses and can find one to contradict almost any position you might put forth.

My criticism is that religion should not have been the driving force in this vote.  And it was.  Our own church included "Vote Yes" literature in every Sunday Bulletin for the past two months.  Most of the full-page advertisements supporting the amendment were paid for by religious groups.

Tell me that all marriages and all unions must be sanctioned by God (and must be defined based on a single quote from the Bible) and I will ask you how then, can non-Jewish non-Christians have a valid marriage?  How can you have a valid marriage if it isn't performed by a member of the clergy?  My own son was married by a lawyer in his wife's firm who got a "Judge-For-A-Day" license in order to perform the beautiful non-religious ceremony in her lovely backyard.  Neither God nor Jesus were mentioned in this moving and lovely ceremony.  If their union is legal then exactly how did the Bible enter into this discussion?

Or should I say how did the Bible DRIVE the vote on the amendment?


If you are still reading, I will leave you with the words of Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ.

"Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people.  Before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all his children.  Before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors.  In the end I'm not as interested in what you have to sell or tell as in how you choose to live and give."

Just how much does the overwhelming approval of Amendment One tell us about our compassion and how much does it tell us about our continued bigotry and intolerance?

34 comments:

Vicki Lane said...

Perfectly expressed! I'm still trying to calm down before I blog about this.

The people who supported this should be ashamed.

Vicki said...

Great post.

Vicki Lane said...

I hope you don't mind but I put up a link to this terrific essay on Facebook and it's getting lots of praise and comments over there. Are you on FB?

Kaye Barley said...

Great post - Thank you. I'm linking it from my Facebook also.

The Bug said...

I'm just heartsick. Many members of my own family voted for this amendment. In some ways I wish I still lived there so I could have voted my heart - & in other ways I'm so glad I don't live there anymore. Not that Ohio is any great shakes when it comes to this topic either.

Ms. A said...

LOVE the words from Cory Booker and yours, too.

kks said...

wow, this is beautifully written! thank you for speaking up....sometimes we wonder if we are the only ones that feel a certain way....
i would love to share this too....don't have a clue how to do it though...
i'm sure you saw the primary results.....we will all stand by Barrett to oust Walker...wish us luck!!!
xoxo

Lisa Donegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Donegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Donegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ginnie said...

Bless you for your wonderful explanation of this issue. As a North Carolinian I am ashamed that we have taken this step backward.

Taradharma said...

Thank you for this post -- you make great points and observations about the rolling back of civil rights in your state and the U.S.A. It all seems so crazy to me. Why do religious zealots care? Why do they want to interfere with others' civil liberties? I just don't get it. Are 'they' taught not to judge, lest they be judged?

That Corey Booker quote: love that guy!

Harbingerdc said...

So very beautifully said! I've shared it on my Facebook page from the link that Vicki Lane posted. Thank you.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love the Cory Booker quote...my feelings exactly.
I love the passion in this post...and I'm saddened that not everyone feels the same way we do.
Yes, a step backward indeed.
xo

KGMom said...

This vote, and others like it in the U.S., make me so sad. How can we not understand that as citizens, we should NOT vote on a right. A right is a right.
But, that said, there is also a caution that when we find ourselves in the majority position, we need to PROTECT the minority, not punish or deny. Who knows but that we may be in the minority some day--and then, how would we feel for a hateful majority to limit our lives so?
I am so fearful for our country--we are losing our way, and that is not a statement about our not being conservative enough. We are inching toward a kind of theocracy, and that bodes ill for us all.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Thought of you as I watched the results come in last night. Listened to Corey Booker on Rachel Maddow this evening, well said.
Our oldest is getting married this June, her sister is getting a one time license to marry them. It will be a wonderful and loving ceremony, just as your son's was.
Hooray for the President today...will be an interesting time.

Victoria said...

Beautifully written, eloquent post. I wish I could express my thoughts as concisely as you do. I love what Cory Booker said and I had not heard it before. Thank you for posting it.

I can't understand why some people are so threatened by same sex marriage, or gay people, or religions that differ from their religion. I was very proud of President Obama today!

Rudee said...

Beautifully said.

Maery Rose said...

Thank you for this beautiful post.

Elora said...

Add my thanks to the long and growing list, girl.

Elora

Jill said...

Very well written. I also think that the politicians of this wonderful country love to make things as controversial as possible. This keeps us busy bickering while they rob us blind. A shame this passed.

Vicki Lane said...

This continues to be shared on FB -- your words are touching many.

Arkansas Patti said...

Wonderful post on a very sad subject. I totally agree with you, Mr. Booker and President Obama.

merrilymarylee said...

Really, I thought that if I saw one more fist-pumping preacher expressing his delight over the passage of this amendment I was going to scream. I was horrified when Billy Graham ran a full-page ad in favor of the amendment. Franklin, of course, remained true to form. . . and believe me, I'm not a fan of his form!

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

One of the best online writings on this issue I have read on the gay/legal union vote. You lay it out succinctly and logically. My theory is that the "powers that be" have convinced voters that this is a religious issue rather than a human rights one. I know that this country is in deep trouble with all these attacks on issues of race, immigration, women and gay rights. Its a bait and switch ploy. It is switching our reality of a country that has deep financial problems to emotional issues linked to falsehoods. -- barbara

troutbirder said...

And not to change the subject but pro-amentment type people are what I call the "armed old testament christians." They know little or nothing about the meaning of the words of Jesus and the ethic of the New Testament....

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. This amendment will be looked upon in shame in the future much as we looked back at Jim Crow laws.

Janie said...

It's so strange to me that bigotry and intolerance are promoted in the name of Christianity. In my opinion, Christ must be horrified that his teachings are used in such a way.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Well said. Thanks for your thoughtful post. I hadn't realized how far this amendment went in limiting freedoms.

swanlady said...

What a wonderful post! I came over from Murr's place and am glad I did. I would like this post to be read by everyone. I especially like the quote at the end and will be linking this to my facebook account.
and then my thought was .... and the churches don't pay any taxes but can try to legislate from the pulpit - how daft!

KB said...

You should publish this... It explains the ramifications of the vote extremely well. I could not agree more with you. It is a sad day.

Murr Brewster said...

Sing it, sister. "I can recite hundreds of verses and can find one to contradict almost any position you might put forth"--and that's a stratagem I also use as often as possible. To make matters even worse, this kind of nonsense is being cynically promoted by people who couldn't care less about marriage equality, but want to make sure "their" people come to the polls and vote in the folks who will protect their vast wealth.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

The quite from Cory BOoker summarized everything so well. There are so many so-called Christians in the world who should take heed.

georgia little pea said...

Hello, I have a silly dogblog. Nothing truly important is ever said there. This morning, when I woke up, it was raining and the dog doesn't seem in any hurry to go for her walk. So I thought I'd read some blogs. By accident, I found your Golden Fridays and somehow ended up here.

I have many gay friends but even if I didn't, I would have to agree with what you've said. I think it's sad we're even having to debate something like this. And sadder still that we have to use god and religion as an excuse for intolerance. I hope common sense prevails, but seeing the way the world is heading these days, I don't think the odds are too good.

Back to silliness. Have a great day :)