Thursday, April 19, 2012

why i'll vote against

“Bad laws are the worst kind of tyranny.” Edmund Burke

1. Amendment One is anti-freedom.

From the days of our Founding Fathers to the present day, the steady drumbeat of progress in our great country has been that of a march towards freedom. That used to mean something in so-called “conservative” circles. I am a conservative in every sense in which that word can be traced through history. I believe in capitalism, our republican form of government, in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, and for treating others as we wish to be treated. And I believe in the power of freedom to loose deep down in human beings our best selves instead of the ugliness and violence that we too often inflict on each other as a means of propping ourselves up and controlling others.

That’s why I oppose this amendment. Not as a liberal but as a conservative. Freedom comes with a great price. If you are to be free, it means you must allow others who have entered into the same social contract with you that same freedom. If some are freer than others, then a society can never be truly free. Freedom from tyranny means that you can’t become the tyrant yourself. Even a well-meaning, devout, religious tyrant is one that cannot be tolerated in this country. In fact, if you read your history books, it was just such a tyrant we fled from to establish this nation.

Sure, you can dress it up and say this is about defining “marriage” and not about freedom but that ignores so much of what this Amendment would do if enacted and so much of what it will not do if defeated. We have tried defining marriage in the past (as you see pictured here). Our last state constitutional amendment on marriage was to make sure that people of different races didn’t get the idea that their marriage was valid in this state. The prevailing thought of the day was that allowing mixed race marriages would cheapen the whole institution. (Starting to sound familiar?) But, of course, no one can define words by themselves. Words will mean what they mean as people use them to mean such. So if gays are being married, people are going to call it marriage no matter what the law says. We can’t legislate dictionaries.

To look someone in the face and say “You cannot enjoy the same right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that I do because you’re different” is the opposite of the American ideal. It is the opposite of what our Founding Fathers created this country to embody. If we are to be the city on a hill, then we can’t treat people differently and restrict their freedoms simply because we don’t like them as much. Oppression is ugly and un-American. And it is not fit for our state constitution.

2. Amendment One is unchristian.

Some religious people in this fight have decided that it is imperative to the fabric of our society to enshrine Levitical law in our state constitution. I suppose we are supposed to just ignore the admonitions of Paul that there is now “no condemnation for those who are in Christ” or Jesus’ “Give to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God’s” brand of church-state separation. The entire story of the gospels is that Jesus came to seek and save what is lost. He came to reconcile men and women and even the Earth itself to God. He did not come to create a government. He was not a political savior bent on ensuring that one society or nation triumphed over all others. If anything, Christ’s time in our world was a demonstration that those society may consider virtuous may actually not be the ones who would find themselves at home in His kingdom.

Church-state separation is important because Christianity may not always be the dominant religion in this society. As Christians, our freedom is important. After all, it is again St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians that reminds us that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Restricting others’ freedom simply because we possess the political power to do so is precisely the opposite of Jesus’ mission. Christ, who even in the garden of Gethsemane, in what he surely knew were his final hours facing a long journey toward a cross refused to let his disciples take up swords to defend him. It was not a political victory he was looking to win. He may have been scorned by the people in power of his day but he did not lack for might. Christ could have summoned an army of angels to fight his battles, to release him from the cross, and make the entire Roman Empire and the world itself his footstool as He had been promised.

As Christians, we should be co-reconcilers with God. So we must ask ourselves will we take up the sword as Jesus has forbidden us? Will we demand a political messiah once and for all? Will we join him in his mission to redeem this world or will we instead embark on our attempt to control it? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” These two phrases, Christ told us, sum up all of the Law and the Prophets. The fabric of our moral universe is love. Hatred and oppression are not fit for the kingdom of God.

3. Amendment One is anti-family.

If you have been following this fight at all, then you will know that Amendment One does more than just restrict gay marriage in our state. It invalidates any civil union even among straight couples and puts in jeopardy the relationship, rights, and privileges of families all across North Carolina. I am not only a conservative and a Christian. I am also a strong supporter of family. That’s why I think it is imperative we defeat Amendment One to ensure that it cannot do harm to families in our state.

Just a few examples of some of the worst harms adopting Amendment One could do to people who aren’t gay and aren’t married.

*Children could have their health care put at risk if their parents are not married. They could lose health insurance and prescription drug benefits that could be desperately needed when a child is sick.

*The financial burdens could be further felt by the children of unmarried couples if one partner dies and wills and trusts are invalidated. Custody issues could even be altered as a child could be caught up in the system and ripped from their family.

*Amendment One would even invalidate domestic violence protections that currently cover unmarried women and leave the most vulnerable women in our society without any legal protection from abuse. (This already happened in Ohio when a similar law passed.)

Amendment One is poorly written and was put on the ballot without a thorough review of just what the consequences of adopting it might cause for North Carolina families.

And just as a reminder a vote against Amendment One is a vote for the status quo. Defeating Amendment One will have no effect on our current laws. Gay marriage will still be illegal in the state of North Carolina. No church will ever be forced to marry gay people. What defeating Amendment One will do is avoid perpetrating the tragedies described above on thousands of children and families in our state.

I promised with the title of this article that I would tell you why I’ll vote against Amendment One. I’ll vote against because I can’t look my gay friends in the face and tell them they are lesser human beings than me and undeserving of the freedoms and rights that I have been blessed simply by being born straight in American.

You may have your own reason for voting against. If so, I encourage you to write out your thoughts, and share with your friends and family. Dr. King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” This fight matters. So remember to get out and vote on or before May 8. If you need information about how and where you need to vote, you can find it here. Even if you aren’t registered to vote, it’s not too late to register and cast your ballot against Amendment One.

If you’re still undecided, I encourage you to continue doing research. Visit the Vote Against project and Protect All NC Families and learn more about Amendment One and what its passage would do to North Carolina. Then join me in voting against.