North Carolina’s Amendment One: What it Means to Real People

Until recently, North Carolina was the one speck of blue in a sea of red. President Obama took the swing state handily in the 2008 Presidential election, and it was the only southern state that did not have an explicit amendment in its state constitution banning same sex marriage. In other words, it was the one beacon of light for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people living in a notoriously intolerant area of the nation. All of that changed with the passing of Amendment One.
What the supporters of Amendment One neglected to tell their conservative audience is this: real people are affected by such laws. Amendment One effectively bans all relationship recognition between two people who are not a married man and woman. This includes heterosexuals as well. They neglected to mention that when an unmarried couple purchases home together, if half of that couple suffers tragedy, the other half likely loses that home due to estate taxes. They also managed to conveniently omit the fact that that Amendment One not only effectively banned same sex marriage-which was, of course already illegal in North Carolina anyway- it also banned domestic partnerships and civil unions. Since many opponents of marriage equality often only have objections to the word marriage being used to describe romantic relationships between two people of the same sex, this knowledge could have made an enormous impact on the voting results. While civil unions and domestic partnerships do not provide equality, they do provide peace of mind to LGBT couples in the legal realm with regards to medical decisions, property, and all manner of other things that married heterosexual couples take for granted. Now, thanks to Amendment One, that peace of mind is now an impossibility in North Carolina.
The advertisements promoting this amendment were reminiscent of those leading up to California’s Proposition 8 and laws in other states that resemble Amendment One. The locales are different, but the arguments are always the same. “Think of the children.” “ Marriage is between a man and a woman.” “This is a war on traditional marriage in the state of North Carolina.” “The homosexual agenda will be promoted in our schools if Amendment One does not pass.” Not only do such statements strike enormous fear in the hearts and minds of voters, they also are incredibly dehumanizing for those of us who live here. They portray us as predators who wish to take over society and turn it into something it was never meant to be, when, in fact, we only want to be able to enjoy the same right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” that our Constitution guarantees to all people. Furthermore, advertisements like this and the laws they support give justification for prejudice and hostility to an already marginalized sect of society.
Amendment One did much more than ban same sex marriage. It gave new life to already present and thriving bigotry. It made the lives of real tax- paying, law- abiding citizens much more difficult, and it further cemented the sentiment that LGBT North Carolinians are deserving of second- class citizenship just for being who they are.
By Shannon Barber; “Changing the world, one mind at a time.”