See, I'm from North Carolina. I wasn't born there and I haven't lived there in five or six years now, but it still feels like home in many ways. That means I have a special connection to the state, and quite often it gives me reason to be proud. I always thought of it as a forward-thinking state for the region, one where most people were reasonable and didn't really go in for hate-mongering or knee-jerk reactions. Not perfect, of course, but a place I could generally be proud to say I came from.
That's what has me so upset about recent news out of North Carolina. The state legislature is considering "a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage". The article I linked to is actually about a rally in defense of such a ban. To give you an indication of the tenor of the rally, consider that one of the speakers was Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. The description of the event also doesn't give much to be encouraged by:
State Capitol Police estimated about 3,500 people participated in the marriage amendment rally behind the Legislative Buiding and organized by the Forsythe County-based Return America group. Visitors carried placards, American and Christian flags and listened to local ministers and nationally known speakers in conservative Christian circles argue voters are restless and want to cast votes on the amendment.
Just to be clear, North Carolina already defines marriage as "created by the consent of a male and female person." That seems pretty clear-cut to me, and I have a hard time understanding why a constitutional amendment is even necessary. The article says it's so the state would have a better legal footing to resist granting marriage rights to homosexual couples married in other states. But really, the whole move has the feel of some of the anti-sharia laws: groups of angry people, looking for something to be angry with and passing a law so they will be able to puff themselves up over other people.
North Carolina hasn't (to my knowledge) attempted any of those anti-sharia laws. It was also one of the very few states in the southeast to vote for Obama. (Florida and Virginia were the other two; and for my money Florida barely counts as a SE state. :-P) NE was also known in the region for its fantastic public education system and it's industry built on technologies. While I won't claim it's some kind of mecca for smart people, I will say that it did have a sort of attractive quality if you wanted to live in the region and actually be somewhere that intelligence was respected. I think this move could tarnish that quality a bit.
Let me just make a few points clear.
1. IMO, homosexuality is not a sin. Promiscuity is, but heterosexuals are just as capable of that as homosexuals, bisexuals, and any other possibility you can imagine.
2. Marriage carries a cost with it in terms of benefits conferred. We recognize marriage because there's also a societal good to be derived from encouraging people to arrange themselves into relationships and families. Excluding homosexuals from that societal good is wrong. Writing it into the constitution is repulsive.
3. Marriage is not about procreation. Religious marriage is ideally about standing before God and the community (in that order) and declaring this is the person you will make your life with. Civil marriage is about making a similar pledge, only obviously without God involved in the mix. In both cases it is about recognizing that a close bond like that, publicly recognized, is a good thing. Marriage has a lot to offer society even if it doesn't lead to procreation. So that argument that gays can't be fully married for that reason is bunk.
4. The only other possible reason I can think of to be so virulently anti-gay marriage is because you think men and women somehow complement each other, so a male/female relationship is uniquely superior to a male/male or a female/female relationship. That only makes sense if you think men are always different from women. That road goes to sexism. In my experience the characteristics I have found attractive in men, I also see them in women. I'm not sexually attracted to women, which is why I'm not a lesbian. But if I was, I think I could have just a close relationship with some of the women I know as I could with men. There's nothing inherent in being a man or a woman, that means I have to be close to members of the opposite gender and not my own.
North Carolina, I'm disappointed in you this morning. I know that being gay isn't easy, and if two people are so committed to marriage that they would do what it takes to be formally married to another man or woman, I can only think that would strengthen the institution. In many ways it's like publicly declaring yourself as a Christian in Beijing or Tehran: it takes guts and devotion. How exactly does that weaken marriage?
Incidentally, North Carolina could use that kind of people too.