Wow, it has been an interesting season for Moderate Moms. I just got back from North Carolina where voters voted overwhelmingly for a constitutional ban on gay marriage. North Carolina is such a beautiful state and in some ways, it is quite progressive. It’s a state that likes to keep its manners and its politicians in check, though, typically voting for a balance of Republicans and Democrats. But clearly voters there are not progressive on gay marriage. Even the Republican Speaker of the House said the constitutional ban approved Tuesday would likely be overturned at some point down the road as opinions open up on gay marriage. But in the North Carolina primary this past Tuesday, it was approved by a huge margin. Columnist John Railey, of the Winston-Salem Journal, is a native son. He grew up along the state’s legendary estuaries and marshy coast. This is a reprint of his paper’s position on the ban:
We have opposed Amendment One, the “marriage amendment” that would write a ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution, as unwarranted — state law already defines marriage as between a man and a woman — and potentially detrimental to the rights of others involved in domestic partnerships. After further deliberation we also have come to believe that a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is, on its face, discriminatory. Efforts to deny rights to groups historically have failed. In fact, one of the marriage amendment’s supporters in the legislature, Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis, predicted that the amendment likely would be repealed in the future as political sentiments change. That weak defense of the marriage amendment is a pretty good argument not to pass it in the first place. Constitutions, after all, are created to guarantee and protect the rights and freedoms of individuals and groups, not take them away.
The passion with which each side argues in the debate over same-sex marriage — a debate usually wrapped in deeply felt religious views — has clouded more practical considerations, such as the legal effects a broadly worded constitutional amendment would have on unmarried couples. They include domestic-partner benefits, other family-law issues and domestic-violence protections. The amendment would mandate marriage between a man and a woman as “the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” Other states, including Ohio, that have passed similar constitutional amendments have faced court challenges as a result.
Religious groups are on both sides of the issue, with the pro-amendment people arguing that traditional marriage is threatened unless same-sex marriage is outlawed permanently. Interestingly, John Hood, president of the conservative John Locke Foundation, wrote recently that Amendment One is “unwise and unfair” and that the real threat to marriage are couples who too quickly resort to divorce, or who avoid marriage altogether. But back to discrimination. According to one definition, discrimination is when one makes a “distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.” The Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, sees the issue clearly. “It’s a dangerous precedent when you allow a majority to vote on the rights of a minority,” Barber told The Associated Press. “They’re trying to give people, based on their sexuality, second- or third-class citizenship. … We in the NAACP know what that looks like.” So should we all. Amendment One should fail.
In the meantime, Forbes.com points out that the impact of President Barack Obama’s endorsement of same sex unions will be interesting to see. Obama only has a 7 point lead against a generic Republican candidate in polls among the millennial generation. Democrats are hoping the issue of birth control will galvanize young women but an interesting article points out that these are post-recession millennials, who may be more concerned about jobs than social issues. Click here to read more about these millennial voters and why their votes should not be taken for granted.
From the Washington Post,”No one knows how (the political implications of Obama’s announcement) will play out,” said Chad Griffin, a major Democratic fundraiser who is set to take over in June as head of Human Rights Campaign, a leading organization lobbying for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. “I expect this issue to really die down, and we’ll be back to the issues of jobs and the economy.”