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North Carolina votes for bigotry

Today was the vote for Amendment 1 in North Carolina.  For those who hadn't heard, this was a measure to amend the state constitution to exclude gay people from having the right to marry.  And the proponents of this bigotry plan to celebrate by eating wedding cake.

Why should this bother you?  You're straight.  You can marry, maybe you are married.  So, this is a victory for you because now your sacred institution of marriage is protected from us evil gay people who wish to destroy it.

Think for a moment how you would feel if it were your marriage that people were voting on.  Think how you would feel if you were told by the general populace that you really didn't love your spouse, so you didn't deserve to get married?  Or that it was okay to live how you choose, but that it was not right for you to call your relationship with your spouse a "marriage"?  Then tell me how much of a victory it would be for the rest of us to ban your right to marry.

You may not think that gay people have the right to marry.  You may think that allowing gay people to marry changes the definition of marriage and that this is in some way bad.  But, you should ask yourself--why do you have the right to tell another couple whether they can get married?  Why do you have the power to proscribe such a union?  And, if you do have that power, what's to stop other people from telling you that your marriage is invalid?

Something to think about: in 1875 the NC state constitution was amended to make interracial marriages illegal.  This is clearly not in force any longer.  But, the point is, how many times must we go through the same mistakes of our own history?  How often will we oppress people who are different?  Why is there such a propensity for the majority to oppress the minority?

The opponents of marriage equality know that the only way they can enforce their bigoted goals is to put it to a vote of the people.  Most people are straight.  In fact, by any estimates, over 90% of the population is straight.  So, it's no surprise that it's easy to get a majority of the voters to oppose equal rights for marriage.  In the courts, judges understand the concept of equality.  They understand these patterns that we're seeing here--how time after time we've excluded a minority from the benefit of the rights listed in and guaranteed by the Constitution of our great nation.  Proposition 8 in California has been twice tried and twice overturned.  The only way that we can each individually protect our liberties is by protecting everyone's liberties.  As soon as any one of us claims the ability to revoke or obstruct another's rights, we have forfeited our own rights in the same motion.

Proponents of marriage inequality claim that their interest is in protecting the children.  Banning gay marriage does not protect children.  It harms them.  It teaches them that bigotry is okay.  It teaches them that oppressing a group of people is okay.  It teaches them that fearing or hating someone because they are different is okay.  It perpetuates the prejudices of the previous generations.  It promotes hatred and discourages mutual understanding.  It also teaches the gay children that they do not have a place in society--that they must pretend to be something other than what they are.  None of this is good for the children.  None of it is healthy.

Children are not born bigots.  They are taught to be bigoted by their parents and role models.  We do not come into this world with pre-conceived notions about whom we should hate and whom we should fear.  We are taught that in our youth.  I was taught to fear gay people.  I was taught that gay people are a menace to our very way of life.  In effect, I was taught that I was wrong--not that I was wrong about any particular belief or opinion, but that my very existence was wrong.  This teaching did not protect me from any evil--it was itself a grave evil.

And so, I ask anyone who reads this post: what benefit do you get from preventing gay people from marrying?  What possible positive outcome can it have for you?  If you do not wish to marry someone of the same sex, then by all means don't.  But, how does it help you to prevent anyone else from doing that, if they wish?  And, how does it hurt you if you allow gay people to marry?  In what way are you adversely affected?  What rights and privileges do you enjoy which would be jeopardized by me marrying my fianc√©?

This vote will stand as a scourge on our history.  It will stand as a moment when bigotry and hate won, when human rights were oppressed, just as when our society promoted segregation of the races and outlawed interracial marriage.  Do not stand on this side of history.  Stand on the side of freedom--on the side of protecting what we Americans hold most dear: our liberty.

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