By Marjory Holder
On May 8th, North Carolinians will be asked to vote on an amendment to our state constitution. If you read the amendment on the ballot, it looks like a vote “yes” is a simple vote against gay marriage.
It is nothing of the kind and, as a person of faith, I am deeply disturbed.
Let me be very clear. A vote against this amendment is not a vote to approve marriage between same-sex couples in our state — that is already against the law, and this vote will have no affect on that law.
What this amendment will do is harm North Carolina children and families, and there is no excuse for that. What this amendment will do is enshrine discrimination in our state constitution — and constitutions are designed to establish civil rights, not take them away. What this amendment will do is harm any unmarried couple in North Carolina, whether gay or straight, including elderly couples who live together without getting married because one of them would lose retirement benefits by re-marrying, and the couple cannot afford to live without that second check. What this amendment will do is take away protections from children of unmarried couples — and children need more protection, not less.
What this amendment will do is end domestic partner benefits in those municipalities that currently offer them — leaving partners and their children without health insurance. It will mean that any judge can decide your will or your heath care directives, or your custody agreement can be challenged and thrown out, simply because you weren’t legally married to your partner. What this amendment will do is end domestic violence protections for unmarried couples.
Frankly, this amendment looks simply like state-sponsored bullying — setting a tone that approves of bullying based on one person’s perception of another person’s sexual orientation.
I am disturbed – no, I am offended, because there has been an effort to sell this amendment using religious arguments.
We’ve all heard these arguments. Much is made of those few places in the Bible which proscribe homosexual acts — Leviticus, for example, with its rules for ritual purity (which also forbid tattoos, trimming beards, and wearing cotton-polyester shirts) — all of which are the parts of The Law that Christ came to sweep away when he brought the new covenant to God’s people. The story of Sodom is often used as well; but the Bible is clear that the sins of Sodom were those of greed, gluttony, and failing to care for the poor. Nor is homosexuality one of the Big Ten — the ten commandments which codify decent human behavior, and by which most of us live.
Even those passages in the New Testament which are sometimes cited either refer to the Greek practices of male prostitution and forced sex with young boys or, at the least, do not reflect our current understanding of human sexuality — that some of us are created heterosexual and others are created homosexual, and that no one “chooses” their sexuality. Paul’s exhortations regarding what is “natural” or “unnatural” fall into this category. After all, what is natural for me as a heterosexual married woman is unnatural for a celibate, gay, or lesbian person.
As a Christian, I am called to love God and my neighbor; and it is very clear that everyone is my neighbor. There is no place in Christianity for hate … or lies … or bullying. We are called to do justice and love Mercy — to love one another without judging and to treat each other with respect. Jesus spoke of this constantly. He never mentioned homosexuality … not once, in all his ministry. But he did preach care for the poor and destitute, kindness to strangers, and consideration for children.
Amendment One will do great damage to families in our state. It will remove protections from children, many victims of domestic violence, and any couple that is considered “unmarried” under North Carolina law. It is offensive. And I believe it is un-Christian.
Marjory Holder is 2nd Vice Chair of the Watauga County Democratic Party. She lives in Blowing Rock.