First off, my headline should in no way prepare you for a diatribe on what harm same-sex marriage might do to society; in fact, I think it harms no one and nothing. (Yes, I’ve posted in the past about trying to sort out whether same-sex marriage and homosexuality are spiritually appropriate but I’ve never really been able to embrace an anti-gay stance [nor believed that homosexuality was a "go straight to Hell card"] and now I’ve pretty much settled on the “God doesn’t really give two shits about consensual adult sexual choices” path)
Second, screw you, North Carolina.
Look, I hear that North Carolina is a lovely state physically, and I’m sure many of the people there are fan-fucking-tastic. But this week, voters approved a measure to amend their state constitution to narrowly define marriage and forbid same-sex marriage (see here and here for recaps). It is one of only a few states (three or four in total, I seem to recall) that have so narrowly defined and constrained marriage rights.
When I heard about this, I may or may not have posted something on Twitter that called roughly two-thirds of the voters in North Carolina “fucktards” (for the record, I *did*).
Now, I was wrong about that. After hearing that less than a quarter of the state’s registered voters bothered to show up to weigh in on whether their constitution should be amended, apparently more than 80% of them are fucktards.
Anyway, back to my point…
After making this tweet, one of my fellow liberal folks (who I know offline as well as online), took me to task a bit for pointing fingers at North Carolina when recently here in Maine there was a measure on the ballot regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage and a little more than half of the people who voted shot it down. His point was that we are just as guilty here of holding back progress on sexual freedom and marriage equality.
I beg to differ. In fact, he and I already differed on Twitter and I think we reached a “we’ll agree to disagree” point (So, yes, my few conservative followers, I don’t just argue with you; I also argue with fellow liberals at times…though usually it’s with the hard-core atheists).
First off, there is a big difference between the final returns, even if it doesn’t seem like it. In Maine, what happened was that the government enabled legislation to allow same-sex marriage and then a citizen referendum repealed that law. The final vote tally was 53% vs. 47% (though, interestingly, polls have shown that 51% of Mainers support same-sex marriage. In any case, it’s clearly very close). In North Carolina, 61% of the voters said they wanted a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and 39% voted against it.
Now, 61 may not seem a lot bigger than 53, and of course it isn’t, but if I were in a fight with a total of 100 people when you combine both sides, I’d much rather be outnumbered by only 6 people rather than by 22.
In other words, there clearly isn’t as much of an uphill battle to win hearts and minds in Maine as in North Carolina. You may say I’m splitting hairs, but I think it matters. It suggests to me that the battleground in North Carolina is a lost cause for years to come, whereas the fight can still be won for marriage equality in the foreseeable future in Maine.
Also, let’s not forget that what happened in Maine was the repeal of a marriage equality law by some scared, nervous people who apparently mobilized well. No one instituted a specific ban on gay marriage nor codified a narrow definition of marriage. In contrast, North Carolina specifically forbade same-sex marriage and didn’t just do so as legislation but made it part of their constitution.
That, my friends, is a huge hurdle to overcome. You not only have to convince people that same-sex marriage isn’t bad, but now you also have to undo a constitutional amendment.
Again, you can accuse me of splitting hairs, but I think people in Maine would be a bit reluctant to change the state constitution in that way. Time could prove me wrong, but I doubt it.
Yes, in both Maine and North Carolina, people who want to marry and should be allowed to are denied that ability. That is unconscionable. But I have a lot more hope for sunlight at the end of the tunnel in my state.
In North Carolina, that light at the end of the tunnel seems to be an oncoming freight train instead.