In light of yesterday’s vote to add a discriminatory amendment about marriage to our state’s constitution, it is important to consider what was accomplished through this campaign and what it tells us about progress.
First, the fine work of a committed group of people has resulted in alliances and coalitions that hadn’t existed before. People with very different political beliefs spoke together against Amendment One. Secular and religious groups worked side by side to defeat it. Individuals who may not believe in gay marriage have come to realize that they also do not believe that the state’s foundational document, its bedrock of freedom, should be used to discriminate. These are not the results we sought, but they are ones we value.
It was just 1991, 21 years ago, when the North Carolina Council of Churches voiced its opposition to harassment, violence, and discrimination against people who are gay or lesbian. While that statement seems rather bland now, it was issued when some religious leaders in our country were proclaiming AIDS to be God’s punishment on gay men. It was a prophetic and controversial step for the Council at that time.
To come from that point to an election in which about 40% of a huge primary turnout voted against Amendment One is a clear reminder of how rapidly our society is changing. I suspect that Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, one of the architects of Amendment One, was correct when he said recently that this is a generational issue and that the amendment would be repealed within twenty years.
Sadly, we will live for those decades with discrimination written into our constitution, and we will have years of court cases to determine exactly what the manifestations of that amendment will be.
Christians sometimes talk about being citizens of two realms: the secular state and the realm of God. So I am a citizen of North Carolina, but I am also a citizen of God’s realm. Yesterday’s vote determines where the state of North Carolina is, at least for now, but it does not change my beliefs that God loves all of God’s children equally and that all of us are welcomed as full and beloved members of God’s family. Most Christian denominations profess those beliefs in their official statements. The task for all of us, during these interim years, will be to practice what we preach, to live in ways that manifest that we believe what we say we do.
Twenty years is a long time if you are one of the people being discriminated against, but it’s only a brief period in the arc of the moral universe about which Dr. King spoke. And we know that the arc is bending towards justice.
–George Reed, Executive Director
Deanna LaMotte says
A wonderful and faithful statement, and so important for us to remember in these sad times for those of us who worked to defeat Amendment One and who directly suffer, or have friends who suffer, because of its passage. Thank you for your leadership and your compassion in this struggle in our state.
Ann Clegg says
I am 81 years old and I have always believed that rights belong to all people, not just a select group. For me that means rights that one group has should be for all people – no questions asked. That is the only way we can have a true democracy.
Churches must get active in showing love all people. We have the same Creator, no matter what denomination we attend. Scientists tell us that there is less than one percent difference in all humankind. We need to read our holy scriptures more carefully and open our minds better. Until we do, there will be no peace in this world.
Thank you for what you do.
Edmund Raines says
While I’m not not from North Carolina, I do consider it part of my country so I share in the embarrassment over the recent decision to let born agains hold up their bible over all of your heads and say “You will obey us.”
From my christian upbringing I remember a Great Commission. That’s where followers of Jesus were instructed by him to ‘make disciples, baptize them and teach them today obey his commands’. The religious right in NC have decided that’s not enough and that it’s their place to enforce conformity to their religion through legislation. The Constitution of our democratic republic assures rights to all citizens regardless of their beliefs, and guards against deprivation of these rights by any minority or majority. Odd how these christians so often bemoan ‘persecution’ while striving so fervently to persecute a number of groups in this country. This decision to forego a just society in order to denigrate gays and lesbians must be overturned. And will be.
Jean Rodenbough says
Yes indeed. We’re in for maybe two decades more of wrangling over sexuality issues. Unless I live to be 98, I’ll miss seeing this bad amendment overturned. Time to do something about it NOW.