As North Carolina’s May 8 polls approach, debates over Amendment One ensue, leaving many questioning the effectiveness of this proposed legislation.
Amendment One, proposed on Sept. 13, 2011, is an amendment of the North Carolina Constitution that seeks to ban legal recognition of all unmarried couples in the state. If passed, only traditional marriages shared between men and women will be recognized as domestic legal unions; all other couples will be stripped of protections associated with marriage, according to protectncfamilies.org.
Gay marriage is already illegal in North Carolina, but Amendment One’s constitutional nature places more permanent restrictions on same-sex relationships because constitutional law is harder to overturn or abolish.
Until now, in North Carolina, gay relationships have not been condemned but have instead been recognized as domestic legal unions. So, why, after accepting rather progressive practices for years, is it necessary to suddenly adopt close-minded policies? Why succumb to ignorance and intolerance when capable of progression, openness and understanding? North Carolina is the only Southeastern state that hasn’t ratified a constitutional ban concerning gay marriage, according to an Associated Press article; by doing so now, I believe the state is moving in the wrong direction.
An Elon University poll, conducted Sept. 25-29, 2011, discovered similar sentiments amongst North Carolina residents, as 56 percent of North Carolinians opposed a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and 34 percent opposed any legal recognition for same-sex couples.
Marvin Ellison, an ordained Presbyterian minister and openly gay man, presented a speech entitled “Is Same-Sex Marriage a ‘Must’ or a ‘Bust’?” on Feb. 24 at Elon University. In his discussion, Ellison argued we must “embrace a more queer agenda” by looking beyond gay marriage. He stated, and I agree, we must seek relational justice for all, not just martial equality for some.
Ellison argued relational justice involves showing respect to human rights and recognizing the “person-defining freedoms and fundamental human rights” associated with sexual relationships. Amendment One neglects all of Ellison’s suggestions, highlighting its intolerant principles. It refuses relational equality for both same-sex and unmarried couples. Although 39 percent of North Carolina’s population continues to support the ratification of Amendment One, it is my hope that the veil of ignorance is lifted so that a backwards move is avoided.