Commentary

Saunders: Gay people didn’t go anywhere after N.C. vote

bsaunders@newsobserver.com May 15, 2012 

Say, didn’t we just vote to get rid of those people?

Well, how come there’s a bunch of ’em marching down the middle of the street?

A week after North Carolina voters joined the 19th century and 30 other states by voting to approve a constitutional ban on gay marriage, you can still see gay people working, walking down the street, at the gas station and at the mall.

Why, a couple dozen of them and their supporters gathered for a rally in Raleigh on Monday to protest what they see as a homophobic vote and to serve notice that they aren’t going away.

If they aren’t going anywhere, what the heck was that vote for?

How much do you want to bet that some of the true believers who rushed down to their polling station last Tuesday did so with the belief that their “Yes” vote on the marriage ban would also ban gays?

The problem, as many presumably see it, is that you can’t tell gays just by looking, according to an Oklahoma congressman who opposes workplace discrimination laws for gays. Florida congressman Allen West said such laws are unnecessary because “that don’t happen out here in the United States of America.”

James Miller, executive director of The LGBT Center of Raleigh, appears to have been prescient when he told me after the vote that jobs protection would be one of the next targets.

Don’t judge by looks

I wrote years ago about a colleague at an Atlanta newspaper whose racial identity was difficult to discern, making it impossible for anyone to discriminate against her with confidence. In many cases, people who want to discriminate against gays face the same problem, because presuming to identify someone’s sexuality simply by eyeballing them is a sticky wicket indeed.

How long do you reckon, then, it’ll be before some candidate proposes tattooing or affixing some other identifying mark to gays?

Speaking of tattoos, I stood in line Sunday at a Virginia gas station behind two imposing, tattooed women with short, severe haircuts. The one wearing cargo shorts possessed calf muscles that would’ve made early Schwarzenegger envious.

Before I could presumptuously ask them what they thought of North Carolina’s recent marriage amendment vote – I assumed for no reason other than how they were dressed that they’d be against it – a man came in and said to one, “Baby, don’t forget the lottery tickets.”

Oy.

Taking on the president

Remember how I asked you in a column days after the vote, “Who will be the next target of anti-gay marriage supporters” because you just knew the leaders of the movement would be emboldened once they won so decisively? Now we know someone will be targeted – President Obama.

Callers have told me how some black preachers, not content that their side won by a large margin, thundered from the pulpit Sunday that their parishioners should vote against President Obama in November’s general election. Vote your Bible, one said, not your pride.

Obama’s sin? He thinks gays should have the right to marry. He didn’t say they have to marry, or that they should marry or even that you yourself had to marry one. He said they should have the right to do so if they wanted to.

Putting aside the lack of political sophistication inherent in urging someone to vote for or against a president based on a single issue – especially one that has no real effect on you – aren’t churches supposed to be non-partisan politically?

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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