“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary…” These opening words from the Declaration of Independence have been bouncing around in my mind for the past several weeks, as I have watched and listened to the many voices speaking about the proposed Amendment One here in North Carolina. On the ballot for the May 8th primary, and already being voted on by those taking advantage of early voting, this highly controversial issue is calling forth commentary by people of faith of every stripe.
And so, though I have been commenting on Facebook and encouraging folks to view some excellent videos produced by People of Faith Opposing Amendment One, the cacophony in my head demands that I speak out more forcefully. For you see, those in favor of this unnecessary amendment have been using tactics which are both unfair and untruthful. There- I said it. Calling this the “Defense of Marriage Act” is a misleading and downright dishonest misnomer. After all, there is already a law on the books in our fair state which defines marriage as between a man and a woman; no others need apply for a license to marry within the borders of North Carolina. And if a marriage is strong and viable, meaningful and mutually satisfying, why in the world does it need defending? From what? From whom?
No…the proposed Amendment One offers wording which has nothing to do with “protecting” marriage. Rather, it strikes at the heart of justice for all with its vague, unclear wording: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be recognized as valid or recognized in this state.” And note the words, only domestic legal union…no definition is offered as to what this means…legal in what way? What about people with children who have chosen not to marry? What about seniors who have a domestic partnership without benefit of marriage because to marry would halve their Social Security income? What about the thousands of “common law” marriages already in existence? All of which offer no threat whatsoever to existing marriages…
This amendment could be interpreted in such a way that it would prevent the courts from enforcing private agreements between unmarried couples; interfere with child custody and visitation rights seeking to protect the best interests of children; invalidate protections against domestic violence to members of unmarried couples regardless of gender; or interfere with end-of-life arrangements, such as wills. Is this really what the citizens of this beautiful but often oxymoronic state want? What about equal rights for ALL people, regardless…?
How can we Christians, as followers of the one who welcomed and included, loved and reached out to ALL people consider it right and proper and JUST to exclude anyone from the protections of the law? In voting FOR Amendment One, that is exactly what we will be doing… telling some of our fellow citizens that their rights are not as important, as vital, as our own. And we will be saying to the rest of the country, of the world, that here in North Carolina you and your relationship count legally only if you are heterosexual and married. Is this really the message we want to send to one another? Is this really loving one another as God loves us? And where is the holy justice of God in all this?