Ugly Democracy: the North Carolina Marriage Amendment

Same-sex marriage legislation is complicated in the U.S. Click the image to find out what the colors mean. (Graphic: Lokal_Profil)

60 percent of North Carolinians  voted to enact a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage yesterday. So, let’s just say that I’m pretty disgusted with about 60 percent of North Carolinians. It should be noted that gay marriage has been illegal in the state since 1996 but, apparently, social conservatives and culture warriors saw need to entomb their views in the state constitution.

Of particular interest to me is whether or not as much support could be mustered for a constitutional ban on adultery. Or, better yet, would 60 percent of North Carolinians vote to enact a constitutional ban on divorce? Both are even more insidious threats to “traditional marriage of one man and one woman” than same-sex marriage will ever be. But, we all know that neither of those things will ever, ever happen.

I’ll avoid harping on this for too long as I feel I’ve stated rather emphatically how I feel about gay marriage and the Christian opposition to it. A nice little addendum to this nonsense is a rare bit of wisdom from a person who supports the amendment. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the predictably-Republican speaker of the North Carolina House, Thom Tillis, stated, “If it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years.”

Voila! Finally, people are starting to catch on.

At the risk of sounding vulgar, a significant number of the people who support constitutional bans on same-sex marriage will be dead in twenty years. That’s just a fact of the demographics. Opposition to same-sex marriage is far stronger among older Americans (61 percent opposed among those 55+) when compared with younger Americans (70 percent support among those 18 to 34). That particular survey was from May of 2011, when support among the 18 to 34 demographic had increased 16 percentage points from the year before. For culture warriors, the battle odds don’t look promising.

One of the biggest organizations working to organize support for the amendment was the group Vote for Marriage NC, which predicts doom upon doom should same-sex marriage become legal. The problem with these people and their cohorts is that they’ve never learned how to properly frame the debate. When it’s not the “gay marriage is a threat to traditional marriage” tripe, it’s predictions of horrendous consequences for religious liberty. The issue is more nuanced than many Christians seem capable of understanding and unless they alter both their message and their approach, they will be the cause of their own marginalization.

It is possible to support gay marriage and maintain a belief that homosexuality is outside God’s original plan for mankind. Shocker, I know. And, in so doing, Christians would be recognizing the right of people to make decisions for themselves and not making them second class citizens for making particular decisions (like choosing to marry). Furthermore, the existence of gay marriage is not inherently anathema to religious liberty. The conversation needs to shift from Christians stonewalling and relying on outmoded “logic” to them leading the discussion on how gay marriage can exist from a civil and legal standpoint and believers still maintain their liberty to believe and state openly that belief that homosexuality is wrong.

More frustrating than anything else is the fact that the Christians who fight for things like this are actually repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot. When they approach the matter by attempting to impose their beliefs on everyone instead of working toward a setup in which room exists for all people’s viewpoints, they make themselves look like spoiled Kindergartners who don’t want to share the playground with the new kids in school. Ultimately, amendments like these might pass, but they are actually counterproductive. Instead of cementing so-called “Christian values” into state constitutions, they merely embolden the opposition and undermine the credibility of the Church as an organization welcoming of a truly pluralist society. In short, it isn’t same-sex marriage advocates who lose, it’s Christians.

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3 thoughts on “Ugly Democracy: the North Carolina Marriage Amendment

  1. Pingback: DEPARTMENT OF NON-APOLOGIES: An Open Letter to the Satirically-Impaired | Roygeneable

  2. Pingback: DEPARTMENT OF NON-APOLOGIES: An Open Letter to the Satirically-Impaired | Roygeneable

  3. Very good article Roy-Gene. You probably wrote it shortly before our president came out in support of gay marriage. I’m emotional right now – Obama has already done so much for gay people in this country and to quote Rachel Maddow our gay sister; “it’s the icing on the cake”.

    I think Republicans are running scared. They realize that the numbers are changing and they’re changing fast with 50 percent of the country in support of gay marriage. And you’re right; the more older people die and the more younger people grow into voters, the closer we come to a solid majority in support of gay marriage and the closer we come to ending all these constitutional amendments.

    I’m just so proud of Obama and his political stand on this and I pray that it doesn’t cost him the election. That surely would not do anything positive for gay rights because a Romney presidency promises to be a boondoggle for right wing bigots; someone they can completely control because he’s nothing but a puppet.

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