In 1875, the state of North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment about marriage. This one declared “all marriages between a white person and a Negro or between a white person and a person of Negro descent to the third generation inclusive are, hereby, forever prohibited.” Now, when this amendment passed, there were no “activist judges” who might thwart the will of the people by determining that will was discriminatory. According to an opinion piece in the Raleigh News and Observer, this 1875 amendment was “apparently designed to serve other aims. It was constitutionalism by epithet, by exclamation point…, North Carolinians used the constitution to double down – to declare, in as potent a format as exists, their unyielding hostility to marriage between blacks and whites.” Now, 137 years later, North Carolinians find themselves once again being asked whether the constitution of this great state should be used to deny a basic human right to one group of citizens. What a lot of progress we’ve made.
I’m sure if you were to ask the authors and sponsors of Amendment One if they felt kinship with their 1875 predecessors, they’d be aghast. No politician worth their salt wants to be likened to the men who enacted the Jim Crow laws of the late 19th and 20th centuries; that would be suicidal. But, whether they meant to or not, they have a crafted an amendment that will stand beside the anti-miscegenation bill of 1875 in its callous disregard for the equality of all people. In the title of this article (and in this paragraph), I’ve mentioned twice “Jim Crow” now, so in case you don’t remember what you learned in history class, Jim Crow laws were enacted to maintain a strict policy of separation between black and white. And, Amendment One will do the same thing to the LGBT community.
We hear a lot from groups like Focus on the Family, the National Organization of Marriage, the American Family Association, etc. about the “gay agenda”. I know quite a few LGBT folks and, best as I can tell, they don’t have an agenda; they just want to live their life and be treated the same as everyone else. I can’t say the same about the groups who are always yapping about it (see above). It’s becoming quite obvious that anti-gay groups have an agenda and that is to push gay people back in the closet. Well, that’s not exactly true. What they really want is the complete extinction of anything other than heterosexuality. What else can you say about groups that quote Leviticus and Deuteronomy (passages that demand the death penalty for transgressors) to show that homosexuality is a sin?
We are told this amendment is needed to protect marriage; that, if passed, it won’t imperil children’s health care or remove legal protections from victims of spousal abuse; that is open for debate. Tomorrow is the last chance you have to tell them that North Carolina doesn’t believe in discrimination, that we will not amend our constitution to take away another’s rights. It’s your last chance to show the world what North Carolina will not usher in a new era of Jim Crow. Vote against Amendment One. It’s the right thing to do.