As noted before, I call North Carolina home and am proud of my state in many ways. I learned earlier this week that NC is a leader in solar energy development in the country, in part due to Duke Energy’s leadership, but primarily due to the requirement imposed by the state in 2007 for utilities to have 12.5% of the energy supplied by renewable energy sources by 2025. That is cool. Unfortunately, we took a step backward later in the week with a NC Senate Panel voting to allow fracking, but that issue is for a future post.
My reason for titling this post as I did and for voicing these concerns today is the amendment to the state constitution which will be voted on in the May 8 NC elections. Early voting has started as of today. The evangelical, conservative wing of the Republican Party which took power in 2010 over the state congress has decided that the existing law preventing same-sex marriage was not stringent enough. So, we have the opportunity to vote for an Amendment One to the state constitution. This amendment says we really mean it when we say no to same-sex marriages in the constitution. Unfortunately, it goes even further and states in its opening paragraph:
“Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”
So, legal interpretations of the above could deny rights to civil unions between different sexes, as well as the obvious unions between same gender couples. This could cause concerns over benefits afforded by employers, in addition to the general slap in the face for couples who have civil unions.
I have noted in earlier blogs about the best and worst of religion and the need to give the same rights to LGBT citizens as we provide to other citizens. The worst of religion is when it is exclusive. When religion denigrates others it becomes something that many do not want to be a part of. As we speak, the Catholic Church is coming down hard on a group of nuns who are supporting women’s issues in America. What the Pope and other religious leaders fail to realize is when you become exclusive, you drive people away. And, you may have a self-fulfilling prophesy. There is a church in Davidson, NC that is down to three members. The church has aged out and not been very inclusive. I use this example as a metaphor as lot of churches are in trouble and need to do better to reach their audiences and be more inclusive.
I read this morning that one of the GOP US Congressional candidates was arguing against another who said Amendment One would be harmful to business and was unfair. The advocate for Amendment One said he was ashamed when people vote against values. From where I sit, the real “values” reside in the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It does not say, do unto others, unless they are gay or lesbian. To me this supersedes any other language written by men as they attempted to interpret God’s word. I emphasize the word attempt as the Christian Bible, like other religious texts, were written by men who are imperfect. They may have been divinely inspired, but they are still human authors. And, I would add the Bible has been translated on numerous occasions and many Christians read the King James’ version. So, it has been subject to translation bias and error by men as well.
Why do I say this? People quote from the Bible often, but fail to realize that it was written by men. If you follow the Bible to the letter, you would also require wives to obey their husbands, which would take us back a notch. This is off the subject, but on BBC America last night they reported how Pakistani husbands are getting away with throwing acid on their wives faces disfiguring them greatly. Laws are trying to prevent this, but the religious culture is too ingrained and the husbands escape punishment.
I digress as I want to emphasize the greatness of our US constitution when our forefathers required a separation of church and state. They did this for a reason. We need to support the rights of all of our citizens regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, age or sexual orientation. We need to continue down the path of assuring equal rights for all not having amendments like this one which denies rights. To me this is where “values” reside. I value the greatness of our country to allow different religions to believe as they choose, but I value more the right giving us citizens the freedom to choose our religion. I also do not wish someone’s religious beliefs to infringe upon another’s freedoms. That is my values proposition.
As with the Women’s movements in the 1910’s and in the 1970’s, the Civil Rights movements of African-Americans which culminated in laws passed in the 1960’s, the right side of history showed that these laws and mores were a long time coming. We can look back now and see how discriminatory the denial of these rights and freedoms were. When we look back fifty years from now, we will see how discriminatory laws like Amendment One were. I was quoting an old song yesterday from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young “Teach your Children Well.” The song ends with the converse, where it implores children to teach your parents well. Our children see this as discriminatory and will eventually rectify these failures. Surveys indicate children and young adults see the rights and freedoms of LGBT’s the same way they see the rights of others. I am hoping we can save them trouble in NC by voting down this foolish amendment. And, in so doing will lead other states and the country down the path of rectifying these previous wrongs.
If those evangelicals asked What Would Jesus Do? – He would say follow the Golden Rule. Remember, the bible said Jesus hung out more with the disenfranchised and actually had a disdain for church leaders who were hypocritical. Let’s make Jesus proud and vote down this discriminatory amendment and treat others like we want to be treated. We would then be on the right side of history.