March 26, 2012
John Hood, president and chairman of the John Locke Foundation, a leading conservative think tank in North Carolina, has written an article in opposition to Amendment 1. He joins several other prominent conservatives in opposing the odious and unnecessary amendment. Russell and Sally Robinson have suggested that “the amendment is very bad, and [they] devoutly hope this state will reject that amendment when they vote on May 8th.” The North Carolina Libertarian Party formally declared its opposition, saying the amendment will have “far-reaching, unintended consequences” and the party’s candidate for governor Michael Munger says the amendment “explicitly takes right away” and that it’s “inappropriate.” Cathy Bessant, a Bank of America executive, weighed in against it as well.
Discussing the ostensible reasons behind pushing for the amendment’s passage, Hood lays out the case against what he sees as the actual threats to marriage, from a conservative standpoint:
I think amending North Carolina’s constitution to forbid gay and lesbian couples from receiving any future legal recognition, including civil unions, is unwise and unfair. In my opinion the real threat to marriage is not the prospect of gay people getting hitched. It is the reality of straight people too quickly resorting to divorce, or never getting hitched in the first place.
It’s good to see prominent conservatives recognizing the unfairness of the continuous stream of laws and amendments aimed at the LGBT populations of various regions, and particularly the states where we are the most vulnerable. As a southerner myself, it’s been my experience that we’re often the hardest hit and we have a shorter list of viable options for approaches to fight back and certainly less help. More and more it seems people are waking up to this and becoming less willing to stand by and watch as it happens to us. Here in the South it seems the influx of new anti-LGBT bills is never-ending and the sheer amount of laws that are already on the books in southern states makes fighting back a daunting task.
Living in south Alabama, I’ve consistently seen southern states get ignored or left out of discussions pertaining to LGBT activism. Whether it’s marriage or other odious legislation in southern states, there rarely seems to be a strong effort made to show solidarity here. Seemingly, the focus is always on places like New York or other areas where a win seems imminent. Meanwhile southern LGBT people are fighting all these uphill battles and often we lose, and even more often there are serious repercussions that stem from the type of rhetoric we hear in campaigns to promote these amendments and laws.
And the South, and North Carolina particularly, is a great place to start hitting back on this, as Jacob Combs says:
More importantly, though, North Carolina differs both demographically and in its political philosophy from the rest of the South. Democrats controlled at least one chamber of the state legislature for over a century until 2010, blocking constitutional marriage bans when they arose. Desegregation in North Carolina took place without the violence endured by other Southern states; Barack Obama won the state’s 15 electoral votes in 2008.
In other words: out of all the Southern states, North Carolina seems the most natural choice to reflect the growing support for marriage equality across the U.S. by bucking the tradition set by its neighbors and defeating a marriage ban. A win for our side in North Carolina would show that the momentum for marriage equality truly is building, and that the coalition of voters from all walks of life that support the right to marry can make a difference and defeat an odious measure like Amendment One. This victory may seem largely symbolic, but it is in fact extremely practical as well. The last time a marriage amendment was considered in a Southern state was in 2008. Amendment One has re-opened the marriage conversation in the South, and now that it is 2012 and much has changed in the last four years, the opportunity is ripe to reach out to citizens and change minds and hearts.
It is important to have this fight right now, and it’s just as important for everyone to show up and to keep pointing out the negative effects initiatives like this have on regions where LGBT people are not as likely to have support. It’s unconscionable to abandon people here and leave us to fend off anti-LGBT bigotry all by ourselves.
Winning hearts and minds is possible, even in the South. We just have to show up.
Courage Campaign and Prop 8 Trial Tracker are joining a money bomb this week to support the Coalition to Protect NC Families in the fight to defeat Amendment 1.