Well, as a resident of the above mentioned tar heel state, I find myself this evening feeling a bit dirty, like someone spilled oil on me that I can’t get off. There have been times in my past that I wasn’t proud of “where I come from, ” and this is another. As some of you know, I grew up in a rather smallish mountain town (NOT South Park) in Pennsylvania. I wasn’t proud of it, but as I grew older, I became less embarrassed by it and now find that I am proud of where I grew up. Several years ago (11, in fact) I moved back to North Carolina. I had lived in NC for many years in the military and wasn’t thrilled about the idea of coming back here 11 years ago. But I have changed in that as well. I love living in North Carolina. It is a great state filled with good people.
But I admit that I mostly know people in the major metropolitan areas (Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Chapel Hill) and have little acquaintance with the more “rural”parts of the state (this will be important later). That doesn’t mean I don’t have no ties to the small towns and small town people here, just less than the cities. I encourage people to come here. It really is a beautiful state (although admittedly Wyoming, Colorado, or Montana are much more my style, just not Mrs. Weapon’s style). We have some classic things, like the hometown Durham Bulls baseball team, the Outer Banks, the great ACC rivalries, and lots of American history.
But North Carolina has a darker side to it too. They seem to be politically backward in this state (of course I admittedly think MOST states are politically backwards with people damaging the world through the ballot box). These people elected Elizabeth Dole, who hated the state and came here only when necessary, as their Senator. They made Beverly Perdue the Governor (yes from THOSE Perdues). And just yesterday, they made me more embarrassed to be be a North Carolinian than I have been at any point in my life. Because yesterday, this state voted 61% to 39% in favor of adding an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as strictly between one man and one woman. This in the very state that will host the National Democratic Convention in just a few short months.
Of course the folks in charge of rallying the troops in favor of this ridiculous amendment claim this isn’t about homosexuals. Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of Vote For Marriage NC. told cheering supporters in Raleigh, “We are not anti-gay. We are pro-marriage.” To which I say, absolutely. I imagine then that the KKK isn’t anti-black, they are just “pro-white.” What a ridiculous statement, the entire amendment was created and marketed as being against gay marriage. But you know what, it doesn’t just ban gay marriage in North Carolina.
It impacts ALL domestic partnerships in North Carolina. Employers now face not being allowed to provide benefits to both same sex AND heterosexual domestic partnerships, and the children of those partnerships. There is a provision to protect situations where a legal contract is in place, but the vast majority of jobs in this “at will” state have no such contract. As a result, not only do people face losing benefits, but the state itself may find that businesses looking to relocate or start a new endeavor will avoid North Carolina and their uncertainty. One of the major factors in employee retention is benefits offered. That is now called into question. This is why many businesses and a large portion of local chambers of commerce were opposed to the amendment.
The amendment will take away the ability of partnerships, both gay and straight, to take actions that they should be afforded. A child raised by two unmarried people could be taken away from one if the “legal” guardian were to pass away. Decisions about medical treatment cannot be made by a domestic partner because they are no longer legally recognized. I think you see the overall implications just based on these two examples. The point is, that Amendment 1 passing did damage to far more people than just same sex couples who desired to express their love for one another.
Not to mention that there were some obvious shenanigans going on during the election process yesterday. There were many reports of folks being given ballots that did not include the amendment 1 referendum on the ballot at all! In several very “anti” amendment precincts, voters over 17 years old were being given ballots for people under 17 (In NC, 17 year olds can vote for candidates, but not on the referendum). These reports were coming out of Orange County, Durham County, Wake County, and Mecklenberg County. Why are the counties important? Take a look at the map to the right…
The counties in red voted no on the amendment. That little cluster in the middle is Orange, Chatham, Durham, and Wake Counties (Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh). The little red county on the southern border is Mecklenberg County (Charlotte). Counties with the highest populations in the state, and also counties that were high negative on the amendment (my county, Durham, voted 70%-30% against). What else does this map tell us? The other counties represented in red are the city of Ashville (hippie town NC) and the county where Appalachian State University are. So the college towns and major metropolitan areas with more educated folks voted no, while the rural counties voted yes.
This isn’t all that surprising. This is the bible belt, after all. I could go into my rants against the christian stance against gay marriage, but there isn’t anyone here who hasn’t heard it from me before. So I won’t bore you all with re-stating my positional reasoning. All that is important is that I proudly voted against the amendment because I believe we don’t have the right to take away civil rights from people simply because we don’t agree with their lifestyle. As the saying goes, those who require the law to prove that their morals and faith are true, really have no morals or faith to prove.
North Carolina has made a grave error. Situations like this are the very reason why we are a republic and not a democracy. What we are seeing is a classic case of tyranny of the majority. Just because you have the numbers to pass a law doesn’t mean that you have the right to pass the law. When a law clearly discriminates against a group of people, then the law is wrong. And one day the religious fools that pushed for this law will reap what they sow, when they find themselves outnumbered and are discriminated against in the same horrific way that has been done with this law. But that is a day yet to come. For today…
I am ashamed to have to admit that I am a North Carolinian.