I was wrong about Amendment One.
Initially, I opposed the constitutional amendment for the same reasons as most Durham and Orange Countians: Equality, Freedom, Justice. But that was before someone pointed out that justice doesn’t stand a chance when just desserts are on the table.
My original shortlist of reasons to vote against:
1. The Caucasus is in Iran. I was not swayed by the legislator’s wife who said her husband sponsored the amendment because the Caucasian race was diminishing and needed to reproduce. There was a missing link in that train of thought, but I couldn’t find it. So I parked that reason beside Michelle Bachman’s claim that marriage equality meant little children would learn homosexuality was normal, natural, and perhaps they should try it. I imagined homosexuality joining Brussels sprouts and squash as mothers everywhere encouraged their children “just try it; you might like it.”
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2. Theocracy is in Greece. The Bible might be the revealed word of God but, as of 2012, our Constitution was not. It was a deliberated document based on foundational beliefs in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and it promised “equal protection under the law.” So it didn’t matter what the Bible or the Koran or the Vedas or Betty Crocker said about homosexuality; religion didn’t dictate our laws. Democracy does.
3. Welcome to Your New Gated Community Or, Amendment One as a word problem. If, as one North Carolina preacher proposed, all the gay people were rounded up and fenced in, what would be the rate of change for gay births and how long would that process take to eliminate homosexuality? I calculated pretty quickly that since gay babies came from straight parents, the answers were zero and never. It might create a great neighborhood for Halloween, though.
4. Weddings Are (already) Gay Years ago. I wrote that one solution for the dull economy was to legalize gay marriage. The average cost of a wedding is close to $30,000. Average. Gay people are not average. They are fabulous. They wouldn’t just pump money into the economy with their weddings, they would flood it. And probably add a parade.
5. People are Persons, Too. If corporations were persons and could marry and adopt and have partnerships, why couldn’t people? That didn’t seem fair. Especially with nearly 100,000 legal domestic partnerships in North Carolina already. I imagined lining up all those families and their children and ripping health insurance and medical benefits and economic security from their shoulders like a TV courts-martial. Surely I would vote against that.
6. Who’s On First. Who gave us the right to vote on this, anyway? Since when did the majority get handed a buzzer and a big red X? This wasn’t a competition. There were enough rights for everyone. We could share. And didn’t the Supreme Court already rule back in 1967 that marriage was a civil right? Besides, you can’t block love. It will find a way around.
7. All in the Timing. At some time, almost every state forbade marriages between Whites and Negroes, including Connecticut, where it was a felony. Western states prohibited marriage between Whites and Asians. Nevada simplified things by color coding their color code: Whites couldn’t marry Black, Brown, Yellow, or Red races. In 1960, almost all white Americans disapproved of interracial marriage. When did a slim 51 percent majority approve of interracial marriage? 1991. Only twenty years ago. Already 53 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage. Why pour all that money and effort into denying people their rights when we knew it was only a matter of time? Except maybe in Mississippi, where a chunk of the population still believes interracial marriage should be illegal.
8. It Makes Us Look Like Mississippi. The embarrassment factor.
Fundamentally, the Amendment was a huge distraction from the real question we kept avoiding: could we rein in the greed that was rapidly making our planet uninhabitable? Given escalating poverty, marginalization, and the destructive power of global warming, did any humans have a prayer of surviving another 100 years, whatever their orientation?
But all those reasons melted away when I realized that if Amendment One failed, my husband would surely leave me for another man. Two men, actually. Ben. And Jerry.
A colleague sent me a quotation from the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary explaining that if marriage was “radically redefined as being just a way of affirming private feelings of loving attraction, then equality will require people who love … ice cream to marry ice cream.”
I froze in my Moose Tracks. If my husband had to choose between me and ice cream? He’d be on the courthouse steps in no time, Ben and Jerry’s Cinnamon Buns in hand.
Love will find a way.