It seems that less-enlightened voters in North Carolina have won the battle, but may have lost the war for marriage equality, and inherently full civil rights for certain individuals (and groups) who have yet to be accorded all the rights and privileges guaranteed by our Constitution. I admit that last night I felt quite discouraged and disappointed upon learning that Amendment One had passed by a 69-31% margin. It was disturbing to read that over four million registered voters choose not participate in the civic process, and 1,303,876 persons voted for Amendment One.
While I acknowledge that exit-polls reveal that many folks did not fully understand the ramifications of amending the state's constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, being informed is not terribly difficult in this, the information age. Sadly in many areas, slick politicians practicing divisive tactics, and fundamentalist pastors had a field-day while preaching of Sodom and Gomorrah, the end of civilization, or a further fall from God's grace--if marriage equality was guaranteed for all citizens irrespective of sexual orientation, meaning same-sex couples, who are now eager to adhere to the societal-condoned tradition of marriage. Friends of mine who live in Charlotte proudly pointed out that their city (located in Mecklenburg County), as well as six other counties had the majority support for same-sex marriage. An analysis of the voter turnout showed that voters who lived in the cities or university towns (approx 11 counties, accounted for 42% of votes cast) supported same-sex marriage at 56%. The other 89 counties (58% of all votes cast) overwhelmingly voted 73% against same-sex marriage. The city of Charlotte which planned to strut its stuff at the Democratic Convention scheduled for later this summer, for a brief period seemed to have lost some of its allure and charm as some called for rescheduling the convention out of North Carolina. Angrily, some blogs and editorials spoke of canceling business dealings or vacation travel in response to yesterday's vote.
Yet, the struggle for marriage equality (and equal civil rights) seemed to have touched the hearts of many, and galvanized others into action. Either in response to earlier statements of support by his administration, or having reached a point of 'evolvement,' today President Obama pledged his full support for marriage equality, stating, " I've always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. I was reluctant to use the term marriage because of the very powerful traditions it evokes. And I thought civil union laws that conferred legal rights upon gay and lesbian couples were a solution.
But over the course of several years I've talked to friends and family about this. I've thought about members of my staff in long-term, committed, same-sex relationships who are raising kids together. Through our efforts to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, I've gotten to know some of the gay and lesbian troops who are serving our country with honor and distinction.
What I've come to realize is that for loving, same-sex couples, the denial of marriage equality means that, in their eyes and the eyes of their children, they are still considered less than full citizens . . . In the end the values that I care most deeply about and [Michelle] cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president."
Upon hearing this announcement from our president, it seemed like golden light had been glimpsed through tall windows previously shuttered. And our shared audacity to hope has been strengthened beyond measure, at least for this lifetime.
PS: Today's celebratory soundtrack is MOBY: My Beautiful Blue Sky (The New Alternative)