The North Carolina General Assembly met earlier this week for its third session this year. This was to be the “Constitutional Amendments Session,” but when adjournment was reached Wednesday, only one amendment had been approved. It was the one excluding people who are gay or lesbian from marriage, something that is already statutory law in our state, and also extending the exclusion to civil unions and prohibiting some or all employment benefits for same-gender partners. It will be on the ballot for next May’s primary election and will require a majority vote for passage.
One of the most powerful statements about the amendment came from the Rev. William Barber, pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church, Goldsboro, and president of the NC NAACP. He wrote:
Founded in 1909, the NAACP currently has more than 2,200 membership units across the United States with branches in every state in the nation. Our mission for 102 years has been to achieve equality of rights and eliminate prejudice among the people of the United States. The NAACP has always opposed any custom, tradition, practice, law or constitutional amendment that denies any right to any person. The NAACP does not and has not taken a position endorsing or opposing Gay Marriage. However, the NAACP has a long history of opposing any proposal that would alter the federal or state constitutions for the purpose of excluding any group or individuals from guarantees of equal protection under the law. Our opposition is based on our mission statement which calls for the “equality of rights of all persons.”
The issue of same sex marriage is a matter of conscience — a matter of religious or moral perspective. It should be worked out within one’s conscience, within one’s faith, and within one’s own heart and faith community. The North Carolina legislature is not the modern day Council of Nicaea — and we should not want it to be. Public policy, not personal morality, is what we ought to address in the legislature. How should the government address the public policy challenges of abject poverty, unemployment, poor education, economic justice, caring for those without health care, and equal protection under law? These are the questions that the legislature should be addressing. We should not allow my tax dollars, and my beloved state of North Carolina, to put their beliefs into our state’s most important document, to dictate to the consciences of other people here. This is a matter of conscience, not constitutions.
A vote on the same sex marriage amendment has nothing to do with your personal opinion on same sex marriage but everything to do with whether or not you believe discrimination should be codified and legalized constitutionally
To read his complete “Open Letter to All North Carolinians,” click here.
To read commentary from Rob Schofield about the impact of the coming campaign, which he predicts will “bring out the worst in some of the would-be bullies in our state,” click here.
To read Chris Fitzsimon’s commentary on what he calls “simply a disgusting day in the Legislative Building, one of the most disturbing in years, designed to make sure one group of North Carolinians knew that state lawmakers think they are second class citizens, unworthy of the rights and privileges enjoyed by everybody else,” click here.
To read a press release from Equality NC noting that “neighbors are no longer willing to be pitted against one another over these issues,” click here.
The NC Council of Churches has been opposed to a constitutional amendment defining marriage for more than seven years “because it would enshrine at the constitutional level discrimination based on sexual orientation.” To read that brief statement from March 2004, click here.
We will work to defeat this amendment at the polls next May.
–George Reed, Executive Director