More opponents of Amendment One should stand up and say what its bigotry is really about
The video of NC Libertarian Party Chair J.J. Summerell, who speaks out against Amendment One, is laudable for underscoring some reasons North Carolinians should vote against Amendment One, but it is unbearably grating to me on a personal level because of the other message it sends -- that it is all about the "unintended consequences" it poses -- its effect on domestic violence laws, how it hurts children in custody matters, etc. There is zero commentary about the primary reason for this ballot initiative on May 8 - it is specifically designed to demonize and hurt taxpaying, voting LGBT North Carolinians.
"We oppose Amendment One simply because it is badly designed. Our state already has statutes against same-sex marriage. Amendment One goes even further and makes this change to our Constitution. This would have three, far-reaching, unintended consequences. First it would hurt children. It would change custody situations, it would change visitation rights, and many children would lose their health insurance. Secondly, it harms families. Amendment One directly affects unmarried, heterosexual couples and their children. Finally, it potentially harms women. Amendment One would take away domestic violence protections from unmarried women while keeping those protections in place for married women. We find that too prejudicial. As you can see, Amendment One has far-reaching, unintended consequences. Whether you're a Libertarian, Republican, Democrat or Independent, we strongly urge you to vote againt Amendment One on May 8."
J.J. Summerell -- and I don't fault him personally, this is about purposeful messaging decisions -- says not a peep about the fact that amending our state constitution specifically to deny civil rights to any group of North Carolinians is WRONG. That's something as a Libertarian he should have strong feelings about. It isn't a political stretch to say that at all.
No risk, no reward for speaking the truth?
Lest you think that saying something about the injustice to LGBTs is too touchy a matter in this state, take the courage and strength of conviction of North Carolina NAACP chair Rev. Dr. William Barber. He wasn't afraid to say what this amendment is really about - he did so at the 2011 Equality NC Foundation Conference, delivering his Open Letter to North Carolinians asking voters to reject Amendment One. Why isn't this message being delivered in viral videos:
Our mission for 102 years, has been to achieve equality of rights and eliminate prejudice among the people of the United States. The NAACP has always opposed any custom, tradition, practice, law or constitutional amendment that denies any right to any person.The NAACP does not and has not taken a position endorsing or opposing Gay Marriage. However, the NAACP has a long history of opposing any proposal that would alter the federal or state constitutions for the purpose of excluding any group or individuals from guarantees of equal protection under the law. Our opposition is based on our mission statement which calls for the “equality of rights of all persons.”
The issue of same sex marriage is a matter of conscience — a matter of religious or moral perspective. It should be worked out within one’s conscience, within one’s faith, and within one’s own heart and faith community. The North Carolina legislature is not the modern day Council of Nicaea — and we should not want it to be. Public policy, not personal morality, is what we ought to address in the legislature. How should the government address the public policy challenges of abject poverty, unemployment, poor education, economic justice, caring for those without health care, and equal protection under law? These are the questions that the legislature should be addressing. We should not allow my tax dollars, and my beloved state of North Carolina, to put their beliefs into our state’s most important document, to dictate to the consciences of other people here. This is a matter of conscience, not constitutions.
A vote on the same sex marriage amendment has nothing to do with your personal opinion on same sex marriage but everything to do with whether or not you belief discrimination should be codified and legalized constitutionally.
We need to stop for a minute and remember the history of amending the U. S. Constitution. Our nation had to fight a long and bloody civil war that our Constitution, on paper at least, began to expand its protections to all persons. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery; the 14th Amendment guaranteed all persons equal protection under the law, the 15th Amendment provided voting rights regardless of race or previous condition of servitude, the 19th guaranteed voting rights for [White] women, the 23rd provided voting rights in presidential elections for residents of the District of Columbia, the 24th eliminated discriminatory poll taxes in federal elections, and the 26th provided voting rights for younger Americans. None of the other amendments ever restricted the rights of any persons, except the two that established, then repealed, prohibition. Similarly, the North Carolina Constitution has always expanded and extended the equal rights of all persons that is in the First Section quoted above. When we look at the history of our U.S. and N.C. Constitutions, there has never been an amendment to narrow their protections, but always to expand their protections to all persons, and to remedy past injustices.
This reticence to include the obvious needs to stop. Yes, there are many unintended consequences including the harm to business growth in this state-- and they are bad ones because of this poorly-written ballot initiative. Those consequences are over-reaching, but what the design of the amendment was in its conception was disgusting. The elected supporters of the amendment were so blind in their homophobic rage to permanently deny any kind of legal recognition of same-sex couples' relationships that they pulled in a much larger pool of North Carolinians to hurt. Why leave the intended targets completely out of the messaging?
We are not even an aside - we're tossed under the bus as an expected, almost willing casualty. We need allies who are willing and expected to speak as Rev. Barber did by -"opposing any proposal that would alter the federal or state constitutions for the purpose of excluding any group or individuals from guarantees of equal protection under the law."
It's that simple. It's not about endorsing marriage equality or attacking the religious freedom to believe what you want in your house of worship. Let's get real, same-sex marriage is not happening in NC until SCOTUS makes it so -- this Amendment One battle is about stopping bigotry that hurts hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians -- including the LGBT ones.
At least Duke Political Science Professor Mike Munger, in his video against Amendment One, mentions its impact on gay and lesbian couples -- taking rights away from a population, denying the possibility of civil unions and domestic partnerships -- and that alone is a reason to reject it.
He also notes that the amendment “encumbers contract arrangements between all sorts of other people in ways we can’t even begin to imagine and that through the amendment, “government is making a choice about which kinds of arrangements families can raise children in...The effects of this law are going to be substantial; they are going to be economic and they are going to affect people all over the state."
Part of the education process of voters -- and I spoke to a black constituency group here in Durham last night -- is being able to connect them to harms, so yes, telling them how they will be hurt is necessary, but the partner benefits and existing dps that already exist, have hurt no one and will be wiped away because of bigotry (and has nothing to do with religious marriage) is an essential talking point to include. Rights will be taken away.