Found on Facebook, from my friend, Jeffrey Beam
This morning, May 9, 2012, I woke up less of a person in the eyes of my home state. A person who was already less so by the rule of some pre-existing laws, but now Constitutionally less ― by an amendment that contradicts the greatest precepts of our venerable national document ― the separation of Church and State, the individual’s inalienable rights, and protection from tyranny. Now I am a subject to what essentially is a “Christian” Sharia-like law. The very kind of law that the people who created and voted for it would rebel against, if they were subject to something like it.
My husband and I ― we’ve both just recently turned 59 ― were born and grew up in North Carolina. We have never asked a church or formalized religion to marry us, nor have we asked civil authorities to do so. Truthfully, it once meant nothing to us, because we recognized that 32 years ago a higher power united us with its blessing. Every five years we have gathered friends, family, and colleagues to thank them for their support, love, trust, and companionship.
Here’s a true parable: After we had been together for just a few years, my paternal grandmother who had worked from the age of 13 until the age of 63 in a textile mill, and who died at the age of 93 having been born in 1903, told one of my cousins, “You know they’re married, don’t you?” What a wise, welcoming, and generous woman she was. We did always hope, that someday, in our lifetimes, in our native state, our native country, our homeland, that our government, separate from any religious domination, would grant us the equal rights that already belonged to us. My grandmother foresaw it even then.
We feel, no, we know, we have contributed significantly to the quality of life in North Carolina. I know that my work as a poet has contributed to the culture of our state. We will end our days here. We were both born Christian. My husband is now an Episcopalian, the denomination, he settled on after being Presbyterian and Baptist (denominations we still love and respect ― as I do the Methodist fold I left). I abandoned institutionalized Christianity during the Civil Rights movement as a very young man, almost still a child really, when I saw and heard the hypocrisy that could sometimes reside therein. However, I did not forsake Christ, nor he I, but I did find over the years the joy of ecumenical embrace, and gained from many traditions and cultures. I suppose I should call myself a Pan-religionist, although I imagine that makes me suspect in itself.
Once it didn’t matter whether society condoned our Scared Union or not, but now it does. Not so much even for us, but for all those like us, including our older mentors now dead and gone, some of whom lived in semi-hiding for over fifty years as “married” couples―longer than many, if not most, straight marriages last these days. And for those young people after us who are now going even beyond us in the ways they define themselves.
Such an amendment is a lot closer to pogroms, slavery, imprisonments, tortures, and genocides than any of us might wish to ponder. History shows how quickly a seemingly “small” wrong such as this Constitutional amendment, can turn into something more evil, more destructive. Hitler, Pol Pot, and the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina only happened yesterday in history’s long corridor. Amendment One insults Christ, insults loving Christians, insults loving believers anywhere, and insults the Divine energy from which we imagine we have individually sprung―but in which we all, rather, harmoniously reside and express as One. As a matter of fact, it insults those who conceived and approved it.
As I remember my class in high school was the last one taught Civics. There, and in United States history and North Carolina history classes before and after, I learned of the oppression that those who came to America, in the beginning, and later on, sought to escape. And of the promise of Freedom to be denied no American. Woe, unto those lost days when such ideas were taught with a sense of openness, love, and compassion urging welcome to the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Where have they gone? If only the Sermon on the Mount and The Golden Rule were Constitutionally recognized, but then what gain would those responding through fear obtain? Those are the two Constitutions I decided to live by as a young man. My internal law is one of empathy and compassion. Thus I turn my other cheek to you ― those who threaten my soul, and perhaps someday my life. Luckily, it appears the younger generation will not allow this discrimination to stand forever, and perhaps before my husband and I are gone we’ll no longer be second class, or even third class, citizens.
For now I will remain a subject to a Constitution that has been stolen from me, a pariah to prejudiced fanatics and a citizenry that has been hoodwinked by four or more decades of subtle and effective propaganda into believing whatever is different from them harms them while the propagandists, themselves, have strengthened their hold on the masses, on me, and continues to fill its pockets while slowly eating away at the rights our founders envisioned. A sorry citizenry, indeed, turned into sheep easily convinced by lies, by the abusive use of the media, and sports and entertainments that oftentimes feed baser instincts while providing blissful distraction. Ah, sounds familiar: 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and The Hunger Games.
I think on our ancestors, my ancestors, many of whom came here seeking liberty, escaping both religious and governmental injustice and oppression, and those brought here under the yoke of an oppression out of which we had prayed we had grown beyond. I think back on how often religions have been used to whitewash the greed of the powerful, and those governments that turned against their own better interests for momentary gain―only to eventually be led to conflict and bloodshed. I wish no pure religion, no honest political party, no collective of people, a diminution of their rights to believe and live freely. I ask for nothing less. But I pity those who have become the enemy their ancestors sought to escape.
Why do I bother to send this missive to media outlets who reach primarily those who will agree with me? What good will it do? I am by no means a perfect human being, but every day I try to live by the Golden Rule, The Sermon on the Mount. All I know is such injustice that has been wrought yesterday should not be codified in golden documents. Documents that instead should guide us in being open-hearted to each other and the world. And thus I speak to the wind, and hope my words are not lost in it, but gain by its strength.
For today, and for an indeterminate future, I remain less a person, in the eyes of some, and in the letter of the law. But I am not less a human being, nor less a soul or spirit. For my being, and my human love for another human being, my husband, is embraced by a Divinity that oppressors have no knowledge of. Because of that, I love them, even in their hate. May their God awaken them.
BlueNC is dedicated to making North Carolina a more progressive and prosperous state. If your intention is to disrupt this effort, please find somewhere else to express your opinions.