I address you because you’re convenient (although controversial) at this moment. This letter also applies to Colorado, where the filibuster last night had constituents crying “Shame!”; to Arizona, where lawmakers recently designated women as perpetually pregnant; to California, where Prop 8 essentially did the same thing North Carolina’s Amendment One did; to Washington, where before marriage-equality legislation even passed in February, opponents were gearing up to fight it through a ballot referendum (we’ll see it in November). Oh, the states are dividing in more ways than red and blue: how red, how blue. How safe for gay couples; how legal for them to marry; how protected for them to work.
How unconstitutional for them to love one another.
It was already illegal for gay couples to marry in North Carolina. Passing an amendment– amendment one, the first amendment to their constitution— was just to be extra sure. In other words, North Carolina put on suspenders even though it was already wearing a belt. The only reason to strap on double protection is fear. Boot-shaking, earth-quaking fear that you might end up naked, your shame exposed in front of everyone. Or lack of education, right? No one wears two condoms unless they weren’t paying attention in health class. (We can always hope that this NC amendment is indeed a double-condom situation and will result in a complete bust and backfire.)
So what did Amendment One do? It hurt domestic violence victims. Because unmarried partnerships (“personal relationships”) are no longer recognized as having any legal standing in North Carolina, unmarried people who find themselves in violent situations are no longer entitled to the smidgen of extra protection that domestic violence codes afforded them. Thank god. Because domestic violence victims– they were just way, way too protected. They were working that system, because it’s so glamorous and so well-tilted in their favor already. Just getting really uppity, those DV victims were.
Even the governor was against it, urging voters to understand that this amendment does nothing except hurt North Carolina.
These are old battles from the 1960’s, being brought up by old white men who are trying to return to an America they once knew. It wasn’t better then. It won’t get better until they’re out of office, until our legislatures look like the citizenry.
These are tired, stale conversations. We’ve had them, and we’ll keep having them as long as we need to, but it’s a waste of our time. There are other things for us to tackle.
This is why people say, “If you’re voting Republican, you haven’t been paying attention.” They mean if you’re voting Republican as a woman, or a gay person, or a person who knows women or gay people, or as a man who wants to be able to have sex without paying child support for the next 18 years, or as a man who wants his mother, sister, daughter, wife, lover to be protected if she is ever raped or faces cancer or the loss of a child, they mean if you think women and LGBTQI people are full citizens and human beings, then you cannot continue voting Republican. If you’re a good ol-fashioned Republican who’s voting on “economic policies,” you need to recognize that economic policies don’t matter as long as the politicians are making your vote about human rights.
Yes– we should be debating job creation, and laissez-faire government, and foreign policy. We should be debating health care, and family care leave, and the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and gun control laws. That’s what this election year should be about. It’s not. We should be talking about how socioeconomics are still tied to race in this country, and why women still earn $0.77 to the dollar that men earn for equal work even when all variables have been accounted for. We should be talking about why it’s condescending and misogynist that Alex Castellanos called Rachel Maddow “passionate” on TV. Yes, we should still be talking issues of racism and sexism and classism, because those conversations are not over. Those prejudices, those oppressive forces are not gone.
But we shouldn’t be fighting Roe v. Wade, we shouldn’t be fighting for access to birth control, and we should be voting on marriage-equality, not amending our state constitutions to extra-super-ban it. It’s shameful.
It’s time for a 21st-century conversation. It’s time for national legislation. Nowhere is the need for young people in government more evident than in the fight for marriage equality and the war against women. It’s past time to move forward. Aren’t we tired yet of standing still?