In May 2012, the residents of North Carolina will vote whether to amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This legislation known as Amendment 1 would bar legal recognition of any unions besides marriages between a man and a woman, including civil unions and domestic partnerships for gay and straight couples. Some think this is a two-sided war: the conservative heterosexual community versus the gay community and their liberal allies. Look a little closer, and you too will see that this debate harbors a deep-seated conflict of justice.
Some are battling the amendment for fear that it would have a deadly impact on North Carolina’s employment. U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is against the amendment, arguing that it would “harm the state’s ability to recruit businesses and jobs and have negative consequences for families and children.” This argument is valid, and serves as less-radical oppositional platform. Yet, I believe that this is a politically correct stance, masking the real problem.
On Febaruary 24th, Dr. Marvin Ellis addressed the Elon community. No stranger to the political implications of this amendment, Ellis proposed that the crusade to ban same-sex marriage is the result of cultural injustice and misdirection. According to the Associated Press, an Elon University Poll in February “found more than half of North Carolina residents supported some form of legal recognition of same-sex couples.” If this is the case, then what is the issue? I believe that the dilemma at hand is our inability to reconcile our society’s treatment of marriage. We value marriage, yet we abuse it. We support gender equality, yet we resist it. We encourage progress, yet we inhibit it. We need to stop fighting to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying, and redirect our efforts towards improving marriages and relationships in our country.
Dr. Ellis explained that there is “nothing new about marriage controversy.” Throughout history, we always targeted the weak and found a way to hinder them from exercising their basic human rights. First came the slaves, then we stifled the rights of women, and then we deemed interracial relationships inferior. The heterosexual community has picked apart the issue on both a biblical and political level, but the truth is, marriage is a fundamental human right. If we are denying this, we are fundamentally disregarding our own logic.
Consider this statement by the bishop in the Jan 20 issue of the diocese’s Catholic News Herald, “No same-sex union can realize the unique and full potential that the traditional marriage relationship expresses.” I beg to differ. Most of my friend’s are children of divorce, witnesses of adultery and no stranger to angry custody battles. How can we ban people from this right when we do not even do it justice. Same-sex couples have fought for marriage harder than most couples
Those who oppose Amendment 1 want freedom for all people, and those in support are fighting to sustain traditionalism and order. My fight is for a little bit of both and Amendment 1 would be a step in the wrong direction. It would be an ignorant attempt to close the book on the issue of marriage, which I believe needs to be opened, explored and ultimately redefined. As Dr. Ellis said, we need to “take the plunge together”, and rediscover our “relational equality” because “change is good, but transformation is better.” My vote? Revitalize the importance of marriage and practice it to the caliber it deserves, gay or straight.