Earlier this week, Amendment 1 passed in North Carolina banning same-sex marriage, an astounding 61 percent of votes in favor of the ban. This makes North Carolina the 30th state to include such an amendment in their state constitution. The outcome led President Obama to publicly identify himself as an advocate for same-sex marriage, and while he is the first president to back same-sex marriages, marital laws remain in the hands of state governments.
Same-sex marriage was already illegal in North Carolina before the amendment, but there was concern that the initial law was at risk of being changed by judges, something that has already occurred in other states.
And with this new amendment, not only are same-sex marriages banned in North Carolina, but civil unions and domestic partnerships are also invalidated.
The amendment will also take its toll on some heterosexual couples. The North Carolina amendment states that the “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized …”
This creates a gray area for unmarried heterosexual couples in North Carolina by possibly invalidating domestic violence, custody and hospital visitation rights and laws.
This begs the question, what were the positive effects of the amendment being passed? Were there any?
In a recent article from the New York Times, Campbell Robertson reported the chairwoman of the executive committee Vote for Marriage NC as saying, “… the whole point is simply that you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s design for marriage based on the demands of a group of adults.” And half a million other North Carolina residents unfortunately agreed.
Being a state in the South, it wasn’t unexpected that religious conservatives would be against same-sex marriages. In a recent poll from Gallup, 38 percent of Protestants and 51 percent of Catholics were in favor of same-sex marriage.
And those with no religious identity – 88 percent in favor.
But for those of us that remember the principal of separation of church and state, and acknowledge that U.S. citizens have various religious beliefs, the claim falls flat and unsubstantiated.
The only winners in the decision were conservative fanatics, the amendment using the morals and religious beliefs of some to stop others from obtaining rights that coincide with a lifestyle they do not agree with.
But had the vote gone the other way, had same-sex marriages not been banned in North Carolina, only those behind the times would have been affected negatively, and even then in an intangible way.
Back in 1996, the same year North Carolina passed their original law banning same-sex marriages, more than two-thirds of the country was still opposed to same-sex marriage. Today, the number has dropped to fewer than half, 71 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 support equal rights for same-sex couples.
Clearly, the times have changed since then, and they continue to do so.
The Tarheel State may not be up to speed on the nation’s evolving views on social issues, but one can only hope that the state will not remain stuck in the sludge forever.