The North Carolina constitutional ban on same-sex marriages shows how much work still needs to be done
In 2010, back in my home, New York, I worked with a local grassroots organization to advocate for legalizing same-sex marriage. My organization and I went up to Albany to speak with legislators personally, worked to rally protestors in the suburban and conservative towns of New York, and took every opportunity we had to educate strangers about what the legalization of marriage of a man with a man, and a woman with a woman, meant.
A year later, same-sex marriage was legalized in New York. By then, I had settled into college with the belief that the times were changing, and that Americans could grow to be more tolerant. That by assembling, educating, and correcting, we can bring those who disagree with same-sex marriage to understand what the institution of marriage would mean for gay couples. Legalized gay marriages would not be an abomination to the institution of marriage, as marriage itself is an evolving institution.
Marriage for interracial couples was not fully granted until the Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia in 1967, which allowed a Caucasian man and an African-American woman to be legally wed. The definition of marriage changes because people change.
At least I thought people could change. But I thought wrong.
On May 8, the constitutional amendment for the ban of same-sex marriage within North Carolina, also known as Amendment One, was passed 61-39. The amendment states that the marriage between a man and a woman would be the only domestic legal union recognized within North Carolina.
Such a large margin of victory by the pro-amendment group suggests that many minds have not changed. Their opinions have not even budged. Tami Fitzgerald, the leader of the pro-amendment group “Vote for Marriage NC,” said after the victory:
“I think it sends a message to the rest of the country that marriage is between one man and one woman. … The whole point is simply that you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s design based on the demands of a group of adults.”
But legalizing gay marriage would not alter “God’s design,” because marriage between heterosexuals is not a design by God; it’s a design by man. Marriage licenses, legal age to marry, inheritance rights, and license fees, are all laws and regulations set in the courts by the common men and women, and not in the heavens by God. God did not ring up a newlywed couple and say, “Congratulations, your marriage license comes out to be $59.99, and $10.00 for the certified copy. Your total comes out to $69.99. Cash only.”
This is not how we should interpret the Bible. So why would conservatives like Tami interpret it to say that married gays would oppose God’s work?
The answer is simple: Tami.
Tami thinks that gays marrying will erode the institution of marriage. Tami thinks that gays marrying is wrong. Tami tries to justify what she thinks is wrong by appealing to religion. But religion is not the problem here. Religion is merely a belief system. Religion only teaches; it does not argue. Yet Tami argues through God, as if she were God himself, for the purpose of defeating any acts and thoughts that conflict with her beliefs. Her selfish actions serve nobody but people like herself. And in effect, she goes ahead and puts in a constitutional amendment banning other Americans’ rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
So the solution to stopping Tami? Educate Tami. Educate the politicians sponsoring the amendment. Educate the people that cast votes in support of the amendment.
Go to Raleigh, N.C., to speak with legislators personally. Rally protestors in the suburban and conservative towns of North Carolina. Take every opportunity you have to educate strangers about what the legalization of marriage of a man with a man, and a woman with a woman, means. That is, simply that, a marriage of two persons.
I believe that people do evolve. (Some are more evolved than others.) And like for the definition of marriage, this evolution will take time, it will take effort, and it will take patience. People opposing same-sex marriage — whether for religious reasons or not — will have to confront their beliefs when they meet gay persons, who may be their neighbors, their friends, or their family.