Marriage is defined as between a man and a woman, according to current North Carolina state law. On top of that, same-sex marriages sanctioned outside of the state are considered invalid in North Carolina. As if these blows to constitutionally given liberty aren’t enough, some want to suffocate personal freedom even further by pushing Amendment 1, an issue on the May 8 ballot that would make “traditional” marriage the the only recognized domestic legal union in the state.
According to the Associated Press, North Carolina is the only Southeastern state that hasn’t already passed a gay marriage ban.
And whether it passes or not will be left in hands of the voters.
“We need to put the decision to the people so that they can define what marriage is, and not us,” Speaker Pro Tempore Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, said at a news conference, according to the AP.
So what do the people think?
More than half of North Carolina residents supported some form of legal recognition of same-sex couple, according to an Elon University Poll taken in February. But at the same time, gay marriage opponents hold up surveys showing more than 70 percent support the amendment.
Nevertheless, more than 105,000 signatures have been obtained on a referendum petition to put a same-sex marriage equality issue on the ballot for the Nov. election, according to Marvin M. Ellison, an ordained Presbyterian minister, who spoke at Elon University Friday on the subject “Is Same-Sex Marriage a ‘Must’ or a ‘Bust’? Rethinking the Justice Agenda.”
But with a push, comes a shove, especially on such a hot-topic issue.
“Where ever two or more are gathered, there will most likely always be conflict, or at least intense conversation, about same-gendered-loving people,” he said, pointing out that about $72 million was spent to either advocate or oppose Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in Calif. in 2008.
Melvin warned that there’s more to gay rights than the law, reminding us that “obtaining a right does not always result in justice.”
And I couldn’t agree more. Just as overturning anti-segregation laws in the ’60s did not automatically overturn racism, new laws concerning gay rights will not be a quick fix to a society struggling to redefine the “norm” for sexual orientation. We need a paradigm shift, not an issue on a ballot.
But still–the ballot is the only way to start.
Brown vs. Board of Education certainly didn’t make it any easier for blacks to walk through the doors of a “white-only” school, but it did make it legal. And look where we are half-a-century later: a place where racial equality is not only accepted, but largely advocated. The segregation inherent in the bones of our American past is a segment of history (I can only hope) our country has learned from and looks back on in bafflement, perplexed to think that our nation could have ever stooped to such backwards bigotry.
In regards to gay-rights, I can only hope our great-grandchilren will one day say the same about us.