My humble thoughts on NC’s Amendment 1

May 10, 2012

I’ve had an exceptionally heavy heart since seeing the unfortunate results from North Carolina’s vote on Amendment 1. I usually steer clear of all things politics. I loathe politics. I’ve never gone to a ballot box trusting that any of the candidates I was voting for would have my interests – and the interests of those around me – in mind. Not once. When I vote for President in November, I can absolutely assure you that neither Obama nor Romney will get my vote with any sort of zeal. They’ll both fail me in a plethora of ways. It’s just how it is.

But there’s something different about Amendment 1. For one, it’s putting a truly heinous spotlight on the state that I was born in, and choose to live in. I adore North Carolina. I have been to every state in this country, and NC is still home to me. It saddens me beyond belief to know that some 61 percent of those who trudged out to vote on May 8th would willfully walk up to another countryman – nay, statesman – and tell them to their face that they do not deserve equal rights. That children of unwed parents don’t deserve health insurance provided by their parent. That victims of domestic abuse don’t deserve the protections they currently have (had?) against their abuser. That two people who want to devote themselves to one another don’t deserve to file their taxes jointly.

And the worst part is this: too many North Carolinians are using Jesus as the reason for their stance. I shudder to think what the Jesus I know – a God that loves unconditionally – would say about proclaimed Christians demonstrating hate in His name. You may say that there’s no “hate” here. But it is hate. Looking at someone as less than another, even as you force a smile at them, feels like hate to the person on the other side. It’s just rude. It’s just mean. And in what way does this planet need any more meanness? It’s a tragedy of epic proportions just how much discrimination and hate exists already in the name of religion; why add to the fire?

What really blows my mind is how this issue is even voteable. Perhaps it speaks to my ignorance of politics. In my eyes, allowing folks to marry who they please simply broadens a state’s tax base, encourages a far more diverse economic landscape and – most importantly – gives us one less reason to discriminate. And really, discriminating against someone based on the gender of the person they love? That’s almost as stupid as discriminating against someone for the color of their skin. Or the origin of their birth. Or the God they choose to believe in. I recognize that you can’t coerce another human to not discriminate without a change in their own heart, but in no way, shape or form should discrimination be allowed by the government when it comes to taxes, protection rights and hospital visitation. In fact, keeping my fellow statesmen from discrimination is one of the few things I actually want the government to do.

I’m not asking the government to say that gay marriage is “right” or “wrong.” I’m not asking the government to affirm or deny a denomination’s “definition of marriage."  I’m asking the government to just let married people of all genders enjoy a few rights.

I firmly believe that privately financed churches should retain the right to marry only those that they wish. It’d be an abject violation of the separation of church and state – which I’m increasingly unsure is more than ink on paper – for the government to force a church to (or not to) marry someone. But telling two men, two women or two transgendered individuals that they cannot peacefully walk to their local courthouse and grab the rights that I’m blessedly able to have as a married heterosexual is not something I can comfortably do. At its most molecular level, it’s meanspirited. And as a fat kid who was bullied mercilessly in grade school (and someone who strives to simply not be a complete and total jerk), I’m just not super keen on being mean.

As said earlier, I can’t believe this is even a voteable issue. I’m certain there were people who also couldn’t believe that we once had to vote to give women voting rights. It just seems so obvious that it’s the right thing to do, that I can’t even wrap my brain around the fact that there would be an option to do the opposite.

And to those who are tarnishing the view of Christianity in the eyes of the world, riddle me this: would Jesus stand in front of a hospital door and tell a loving man that he can’t visit his male partner on his death bed?

When it comes to voting, this isn’t a religious issue. This is a human rights issue. Let’s fight for our rights, and save the religious banter for theological seminars.

(For more on this issue, I’d strongly recommend a few pieces from men of faith that have a far greater grasp on religion than myself: Hugh Hollowell and Aaron Saufley)