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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake

Yesterday, the citizens of North Carolina voted in overwhelming numbers to pass an amendment to the state constitution that bans same-sex marriages.  The amendment reads:

“[M]arriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

In so doing, North Carolina joins 30 other states, including all southern states, with a similar constitutional provision.

I could spend this post making jokes about how North Carolina has officially dissed native son Clay Aiken.  Or about how its most famous national senator in recent memory, John Edwards, would be the perfect poster boy for the gay political movement were it not for the sleazy heterosexual affair he was having behind his cancer-stricken wife's back.

But I'm not going to.  This issue deserves more respect.  And better background music.

There are a lot of ways to describe what North Carolina did yesterday:  Shameful. Embarrassing. Sad. Frustrating.  Depressing.  Backwards.   

And it is.  It is all of those things.  But perhaps the thing strikes me the most is that it makes absolutely no sense. 

This constitutional amendment was the brainchild of a group of Republican lawmakers.  They were afraid that a previously-passed statute banning gay marriage would be struck down by North Carolina judges.  You see, the North Carolina state constitution, much like the federal one, puts the most important stuff up front.  And the first statement in the North Carolina state constitution reads as follows:

"We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness."

Those whipper-snapper Republicans stopped cheering for the Blue Devils long enough to realize they had a potential problem on their hands.  Their little statute saying that only some committed relationships count kiiiiinnndd of flies in the face of all that crap about equality, inalienable rights, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Some interfering judge might do a little side-by-side comparison, hearken back to Con Law 101, and smack that statute down as "unconstitutional."  So those Republicans threw back a few gimlets, gosh-gollyed about how much they hate how judges like to be impartial and fair, and ripped a page out of the playbook of their favorite dictator.  If we don't like what our constitution says, why not just change the constitution?!?  And on Tuesday, that's what they did.

That history speaks for itself.  The very proponents of the amendment knew that they were advocating for its passage because it was the only way to shore up the pile of shit they were standing on.

But the Republicans of course had ready-made allies for this fight.  Those allies were up for anything that would distract attention from, say, preacher scandals, like the North Carolina pastor and politician who was charged with six counts of aiding and abetting prostitution.  Together, the Republicans and the Religious concocted a rallying cry as concise as it was baffling.  "We're not anti-gay," they affirmed in mock horror, "we're pro-marriage!"

Oh God, please strike me down. 

My dear Republicans and Religious, let's start at square one.  Can we all agree that what same-sex couples are asking for IS pro-marriage?  Like, they want to get married, and they want the state to recognize the validity of that marriage?  Okay.  Now let's take a baby step forward.  You are telling a man that he can't get married because he wants to get married to another man.  Is there any room in your brain to see how that's anti-gay?  See, the way this works is, the guy and the guy who want to get married are "gay."  And you're telling them they can't do something that a 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old guy can do.  Well, can do as long as they can prove the girl was paying too close attention to the sermon on why birth control is bad, indulged in too much of her parents' moonshine one night, and is now pregnant.  So to everyone with a conscience and the ability to play the game "one of these things is not like the other," what you're doing is anti-gay.

And now let's take what might be a giant leap.  Hold on to your britches.  Allowing only men and boys to marry women and girls does not make, and has not made, marriage some glorious, sparkly institution.  In fact, Las Vegas is in the business of making marriages a joke.  So is Kim Kardashian.  Our secret service agents just made a global spectacle of themselves because they hide their wedding rings faster than Usain Bolt runs a 100-meter dash.  A lot of those priests you revere because of their marriage to God have been caught diddling with little boys. 

And guess what, North Carolina?  You know who has the highest divorce rates in the country?  YOU!!  The southern states, who are most staunchly "pro-marriage" (as long as it's between two unprepared heterosexuals), are also the place where that heterosexual love turns to bitter acrimony and broken families.  In fact, while divorce rates were SLOWING in the northeast (which includes many states that recognize gay marriages) they were RISING in the south, including in North Carolina.  So why don't you slow down a hot second before you start proclaiming your commitment to the pro-marriage movement. 

The undertones of the Republican and Religious "argument" are, of course, profoundly religious.   One of the champions of the North Carolina ban on same-sex marriages said that North Carolina was simply doing what "God wanted," not what "some group of adults" wants. 

The hypocrisy and blatant inconsistencies here are again blinding, on aurora borealis proportions.  These proponents are unabashedly saying they want to enshrine "God's will," which they apparently have unique and direct access to, in what is supposed to be a secular document.  The same people that cry out for separation of church and state when Obama wants insurance companies to cover the costs of contraception turn around and make their interpretation OF THE BIBLE into the law of the land.  They want the state to stay out of the church, but they want their church to tell the state what to do.  I spent three years in law school.  On day one, we learned that's not how that works.

What is more, the entire foundation of a democracy is to listen to what "groups of adults" want to do, and then do that.  If a big enough group of people want to fix a bridge or repeal a tax break or elect a certain person, that action is supposed to happen. 

If we ignored what groups of adults wanted to do, and only listened to some loud-mouth's version of what their God wanted to do, then LeBron James would be assigned to fruit-picking from the tallest trees, Hillary Clinton would be darning socks, and Halle Barry would be serving two life sentences for her repeated attempts at inter-racial coupling.  Also, I'm pretty sure God and Jesus were the first PR team to hype this thing called "love thy neighbor."  If discipleship to God is something we want defining our public actions, why isn't that mantra winning the day?

I am hesitant to stereotype here, since the message of this post is dismay at a social failure to tolerate and accept.   But it is interesting to note that the stereotype of the anti-gay marriage movement is that it is made up of the people who are pro-guns, anti-big government, and pro-war.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say guns have hurt a lot more people than two dudes sharing a last name.  I'm going to marvel at the fact that the government isn't welcome to meddle in people's business unless it's to tell them who they can marry.  And I'm going to call a whopper of a b.s. on the notion that we'll "bring justice" to the terrorists for daring to tell us how to live, when we simultaneously tell a group of people that the way they live is wrong. 

All that said, I don't want to end this post with thoughts of hatred based on a stereotype.  More than that, I don't want to live any part of my day carrying around a hatred based on a stereotype. The bottom line is that I feel sorry for the majority opinion-holders of North Carolina and their ilk.  They look ridiculous and they don't realize it.  They are acting out of fear and they don't see it.  They are preaching values but acting without them.  They are missing out on a trusting relationship with an admirable community of people.

It's a shame that logic and reason can't trump narrow-mindedness.  We should all be embarrassed to live in a country that talks about bringing freedom to other shores but denies it on our own.  We should share in the sadness and the frustration of the people whose lives and loves are denounced by laws such as North Carolina's.  And then we should move beyond the depression we could easily sink into, and figure out how to get backwards moving forwards again.

Because same-sex couples should be able to spoon-feed each other an over-processed cake in the middle of a wedding reception -- theirs -- just like the rest of us.

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