Sorely Disappointed

I should preface the following by clarifying that this post is not meant to upset anyone or belittle other people’s opinions.  Read carefully and remember that this is not intended to be an affront to your personal beliefs.  This is as much about law and the purpose of our legal protections as it is about religion.

 

North Carolina Amendment One

 

For those of you who are unaware, North Carolina’s state constitution was amended today.  The new amendment, Amendment One, reads as follows: “Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”

 

Since 1995, North Carolina has had the following law on the books: “N.C.G.S. 51‑1.2.  Marriages, whether created by common law, contracted, or performed outside of North Carolina, between individuals of the same gender are not valid in North Carolina.”

 

So what purpose does Amendment One serve if a law already exists that serves the same purpose?  Why create a redundant constitutional amendment that does nothing to alter the legal landscape for gays?  The reason for such an amendment is to serve as an exclamation point.  To express powerful majority’s hostility toward a disenfranchised minority in the most conspicuous and mean way possible – by etching it into the constitution.

 

Not NC’s First Rodeo 

 

Amendment One is not North Carolina’s first redundant constitutional amendment.  In 1875, the state’s old constitution was amended for a surprisingly similar purpose.  Despite the fact that a law already existed outlawing interracial marriage, the constitution was amended with the following language: “all marriages between a white person and a Negro or between a white person and a person of Negro descent to the third generation inclusive are, hereby, forever prohibited.”

 

Sadly, the aforementioned amendment remained on the books for nearly a century.  It invalidated in 1971 when the state constitution was rewritten.  This came four years after the US Supreme Court declared that all bans on interracial marriage were unconstitutional.

 

Like Amendment One, the amendment banning interracial marriage was redundant and did nothing to change the legal landscape.  It was a way for the majority to express their ardent disapproval for a lifestyle with which they disagreed.  It was a way to enshrine their religious intolerance and bigotry in the most important legal document in our state.  Like Amendment One, the majority used the Bible to support their position.  Unlike homosexuality, which the Bible addresses sparingly (if at all), there are dozens of verses that clearly state that interracial marriage is sinful and that it angers God.

 

Legislating Morality

 

The purpose of a constitution is to grant and protect rights – not to deny them to the minority.  Since the United States Constitution was drafted, there has only been one (federal) constitutional amendment that sought to deprive citizens of a right.  The 18th Amendment (prohibition) another embarrassing effort to legislate morality that did not last.  It took another amendment (21st Amendment) to undo that mistake.  It failed as an amendment because it had no business being one in the first place – much like Amendment One.

 

You cannot legislate morality.  Morals are subjective on the small-scale and constantly evolving on the national scale.  This is often referred to as “moral relativism” – the opposite of which is absolutism (or fundamentalism).  Throughout the history of our country, the collective ideas about what is “right” and “acceptable” have changed.  This is why every generation is frustrated with subsequent generations.  Grandparents will always feel that their grandchildren’s generation is “going to hell in a handbasket.”

 

To legislate morality, especially using a constitutional amendment, is to deny the inevitable.  In 1875, the majority believed that interracial marriage was immoral.  They created a constitutional amendment that is (should be) an embarrassment to subsequent generations.  Amendment One is no different.  Even NC Speaker of the House Thom Tillis admitted that gay marriage is, “a generational issue.”  He added, “I think it will be repealed in 20 years.”

 

The bottom line is that North Carolina’s Christian majority (predominantly the over-40 crowd) is fighting against the tide of progress to force their personal beliefs on younger generations for a few more decades.  This is the legacy they have chosen.  They managed to throw sand in the gears of moral progress and enlightenment on their way out.  Now we, the generations that follow, are left to waste precious time and energy removing intolerance and religious bigotry from the North Carolina constitution.

 

Until next time.

 

-Taft

 

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5 thoughts on “Sorely Disappointed

  1. Robert says:

    Well written. It has been excruciating to live through this the past couple of months and especially as the election grew closer. I resigned my position as vice-chairman of the county party early because I was so engraged by the idiocratic theocracy that these people desire. AND they are unrelenting.

    • wtl0715 says:

      It’s a crying shame, but I don’t think it will change for at least another generation or two. One day people will realize that this issue (and those like it) are not about religion or a specific law. They are about the role of government in our society.

  2. The same folks barking for this are typically the same ones that will jump on the ‘states-rights’ bandwagon. I’m all for nullification and all that good ‘ol states rights stuff…but, the thing is ‘states-rights’ can’t supersede individual rights. And democracy is no way to handle religion, marriage, or love. Legislating morality? Hardly. Just punishing the “other”, as Americans are oh-so historically inclined to do

    Yes, it will be repealed by the next generation. As a Tennessean married to a North Carolinian, I’m am most displeased by this stupid turn of events.

    • wtl0715 says:

      Matt, you’re absolutely right. This is not a states’ rights issue (although states’ power to operate as intended seems to be eroding). This is an even more fundamental issue, but people can’t see past their own prejudices.

  3. Drew pouniu says:

    When I read your FB posts and that CNN article I was really upset by the people who call themselves ‘christians’ and then go out of their way to take away the rights of others and spread hate. You’re completely right, change is coming, it may take a while, but eventually a new generation will over turn this amendment.

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