The forces of bigotry have claimed another state. Yesterday voters in North Carolina approved Amendment One, using their constitution to remove rights rather than enshrine them. Even though state law already established a crude one-man-one-woman limit on marriage, that wasn’t enough for the forces of darkness. They wanted this much more stringent law worked into the fundamental document of the state. The people agreed by an embarrassing 61 – 39 margin.
Much like the amendment in Georgia (which drove my husband and me out of the South), this goes beyond the simple discrimination of blocking marriage equality. It states
Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.
This clearly blocks civil unions or domestic partnerships. While the law does provide a loophole for “contracts with another party” it is very unclear how these two components will balance. Legal experts are fairly certain that it will remove domestic violence and hospital visitation rights from LGBT couples at the very least. Where does a “legal union” end and a contract begin? Certainly not on taxation, so what will this mean for wills and other vital agreements?
Polling showed that when likely voters understood how nasty the law actually was, they became 20% less likely to support it. The right-wing disinformation campaign was powerful enough to muddy that message. Even though the NC NAACP, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Gov. Bev Perdue, and many others campaigned hard to raise awareness, they were drowned out by things like Billy Graham’s full-page hate-speech ad in 14 newspapers statewide.
Way to go, North Carolina. Is it fun beating up a disadvantaged population? Too many gay couples already face not just societal discrimination but divisive forces within their own families. Without equality under the law, stressful situations like hospitalization, job loss, and death suddenly become battlegrounds of bigotry as well. This magnificent video makes that perfectly clear.
This is why civil rights should NEVER be subject to a popular vote. Such a vote simply allows a majority to re-express their clear opinion about a population against whom they already discriminate. How does that make sense? We need more leadership to reverse this trend, with brave voices like the Iowa justices who risked (and lost) their jobs to embrace equality. We need strong Federal laws, like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to emphasize the equality of LGBT Americans under the law. We need the vile, hypocritically named Defense of Marriage Act to be overturned so that states cannot hide behind its filthy veil. We need the government of the people to stand up for ALL the people. Clearly, in North Carolina, most of the people are happy to turn their backs on their gay neighbors and walk away. North Carolina, another state NOT SAFE for the LGBT community!