Vote AGAINST Amendment One

by Heather Newton on March 16, 2012

Writers are not supposed to be political, for fear of alienating readers who might buy our books, but as May 8th approaches I feel the need to say a few words about why I am voting AGAINST North Carolina’s Amendment One and why I think you should vote against it, too.

Amendment One, crafted by our state legislature when it should have been focusing on things like the economy and education, reads: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

Same-sex marriage is already illegal in NC, but Amendment One would put the prohibition against all same-sex unions in the state constitution, making it harder to change.

I am a middle-aged straight lady.  I am a lawyer. I was a History major.  I am a Christian.  I have been a Baptist all of my life, and I do mean an involved Baptist, ordained as a deacon in my church, chairing committees, teaching Sunday School.  I am a native North Carolinian.  I am a mom.  I have been married to my one-and-only husband for 17 years.  Here are my reasons for voting against Amendment One.

1.  Opposing Amendment One, and supporting GLBT civil rights, is just the right thing to do.  I’m old enough to know right from wrong and it is flat-out wrong to oppress people.

2.   As a lawyer who has studied the U.S. Constitution, I believe that GLBT folks who pay the same taxes I do ought to enjoy the same civil rights that I do.  By civil rights, I mean rights bestowed by the government.  If a church doesn’t want to perform a religious marriage ceremony it doesn’t have to, but there is no valid basis for the state of North Carolina to deny a same-sex couple a government-issued marriage license.

3.  As a lawyer, I have seen the expensive and emotionally damaging legal messes that occur when GLBT folks are not allowed to marry. Straight folks’ marital property rights are neatly covered by NC’s equitable distribution statute, and their rights regarding child custody, adoption, inheritance and other family issues are well defined.  In contrast, GLBT people have to approximate marital rights by piecing together laws intended to cover partnerships, real estate tenancies and contracts.  This clumsy analogizing doesn’t work well, and leads to expensive litigation and injustice for GLBT people and their children.

4.  My Christian faith calls me to oppose Amendment One.  Better theologians than I have debunked the scriptural arguments some religious people try to use to justify marginalizing homosexuals.  For my part, when I read the Gospels and look at how Jesus lived, I see a life of inclusiveness and love.  If I’m wrong, then when I die God can explain it to me, since none of the human arguments I’ve heard hold any water.

5.  Amendment One will harm North Carolina.  As a native North Carolina girl who loves her home state, I believe Amendment One will drive away business and make us look stupid to the rest of the world.

6.  As a student of History, I see that legal equality for GLBT people is inevitable.  Human beings rise above oppression–you cannot keep them down–and in forty years, our descendants will wonder what all the fuss was about.  We all remember Rosa Parks’ name.  Do you remember the name of the bus driver who asked her to give up her seat?  I want to be on the right side of History.

My husband and I have been married for seventeen years.  If one of us dies, the other will automatically own our home without having to go through probate.  If one of us dies the other will have rights regarding the deceased spouse’s Social Security.  We save money every year by filing a joint tax return.  We both get to make decisions about our daughter’s education and welfare.  When I almost died of pneumonia in 2006 my husband was permitted to be with me in my hospital room.  Married heterosexuals take for granted the comfort and security these legal protections provide.  I want my GLBT friends and family members to be able to take them for granted, too.  Early voting starts in April.  Please join me in voting AGAINST Amendment One.

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