North Carolina already has a state law forbidding same-sex marriage, but GOP lawmakers there seized the opportunity of their resurgent power in 2010, not to work on jobs, economy or tax burdens. Oh no. Anti-gay forces in NC are gearing up to put a marriage equality ban on the November 2012 ballot that would enshrine anti-gay animus into the state Constitution.
The vote to send the amendment to the people could come as soon as next week. North Carolina Republican Rep. John Torbett explained the rationale behind passing this measure at a meeting held (where else?) in a Church last night (video above):
“We need to reach out to them and get them to change their lifestyle back to the one we accept.”It's worth noting, The Defense of Marriage Act was passed in 1996, and 31 state bans have also been passed similar measures. Yet there appears to be no evidence any of these laws have enjoyed any success at all in motivating LGBT Americans to "change their lifestyle back."
But when did the Republicans need any actual evidence for their misguided policy plans?
Other choice arguments in favor of the measure include that making NC's LGBT community, as Justice Kennedy would say "strangers to the law," is a vital step on the road to battling evil:
“Right and wrong butt up against each other,” Torbett said. “The closer you slide out of the good into evil, the more bad things happen to you.”
Also, there's no reason to believe the public ever misjudges issues of civil rights when faced with a popular vote:
“Let the people vote on it. I think the people will overwhelmingly vote for marriage as one man, one woman.”When do the gays get to vote on who straight people should get to marry?
Forrester also said:
“it looks to me that we’re the only state in the South” that doesn’t have a constitutional amendment specifying that marriage is between one man and one woman.
And if it passes both chambers and heads to the voters, NC can likely be proud to be the last one on the "Wrong Way Express" in this unfortunate chapter in American history.
The pending vote, if it can not be thwarted, is said to be a potential squeaker. Neither yays nor nays have a clear advantage, so engagement is very much needed. Equality North Carolina has an action page here, that directs concerned parties how they can help.
Of course, if you're in NC there is always the basic directive to call your representative and tell them you do not want to see this divisive, ugly and wholly redundant measure placed before the voters, and if they vote in favor of it, you will be sorely disappointed in their leadership.
We all know, marriage equality is coming to North Carolina, whether some there like it or not. An expensive, hateful ballot fight will do little to delay it. It will hurt a lot of good people.
The ballot fight will also siphon the money and time resources of the LGBT community of NC away from supporting their allies' campaigns in state, local and national elections in 2012. It would be best for everyone if it can be avoided.
NC Equality has a helpful downloadable guide to why this bill is a really bad idea. A good talking point that seemed to help pass marriage equality and squares with current concerns about job is it would send a very bad message to the business community:
In addition to the amendment’s potential impact on the ability of businesses to enforce domestic partner benefit contracts solely within the private sector, as University of Law professor Victor Flatt put it, “the larger economic impact may be based on the perception of what the policy means about the state of North Carolina as a place to live and do business. In this way, even a Constitutional amendment that apparently would only codify state law could have an effect on business as it changes the perception of the state.”
- Corporate America is a leader in its recognition of the value of gay and lesbian employees and has adopted inclusive workplace policies to attract and retain talent.8 The anti-LGBT amendment puts these workplace policies at risk.
- By the numbers: 89% of Fortune 500 companies prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, including Bank of America, Lowe’s, Duke Energy, BB&T, and Reynolds American (the five largest North Carolina-based public companies in that order).
- Duke Energy cited domestic partner benefits as an important recruiting tool for all employees.
- Over 50 major private companies in North Carolina offer same- sex domestic partner benefits, including Bank of America, the 5th largest Fortune 500 Corporation in America.11