Thursday, September 15, 2011

North Carolina's Amendment One

Throughout the nation, conservatives are working hard taking away our rights as American citizens.  In many cases, it's not enough for them to simply deny a person's liberty.  The average Republican respects strength, brutality, and clear statements of superiority.  What could be more brutal than stomping down on the face of someone you've already defeated?  Conservatives are never happy with merely winning a fight, they need to grind their opponents into the dirt, laughing at their own barbarism.  Anything to feed their sense of superiority. 

North Carolina remembers that it's supposed to be bigoted
This is happening right now in North Carolina.  The opponents of freedom in the state's House and Senate have passed a bill that could amend the state's constitution to deny the right to marry to anyone who doesn't meet the state's stringent "moral standards."  This anti-rights amendment could be put on ballots as early as May of 2012, during the primary election.

Friends, there's something you need to understand.  North Carolina already has laws against the freedom of marriage.  Can two men get married in North Carolina?  Can two women?  No.  That's illegal, and has never been allowed.  So why an amendment to the state constitution? 

That's the stomping I mentioned earlier, the grinding into the dirt.  It's not enough that gay marriage is illegal, they want it to be unconstitutional, enshrined into the very basis of the law.

Regressives have been fighting to amend the state's constitution for years, but every time the legislation was put forward, the House and Senate stopped it.  That changed this year, as Republicans took control of both chambers for the first time in over one hundred years.

To stack the deck, they put the amendment on the primary ballot, next May.  There's a Democrat in the White House right now, and it's pretty unlikely that he'll have a primary challenger.  In most situations, liberals wouldn't have any reason at all to vote in next year's primaries.  Compare that to the circus of Republican presidential contenders -- it's hard to remember when a primary has gotten so much attention.  Republicans will be out in droves that day, deciding whether they want a fascist, an idiot, or both for a president.  Democrats will only be voting if they've both heard of the amendment and care enough to vote against it, while I'd bet that most of the Republicans who show up will have not heard of it at all!  But since it's on the ballot, they'll sure as hell vote for it.

They're taking a Republican-backed amendment and putting it on a ballot that will be seen almost entirely by Republicans.  That's just fundamentally dishonest.

Religious extremists have already begun celebrating.  Mark Creech, the executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, takes this amendment as an almost personal victory.  "It was more of a fight than I anticipated," he said, while describing the amendment as a "culmination of over 10 years of intensive work."  That's a whole lot of effort just to keep someone else from their rights. 

Extremists protesting the rights of American citizens
 In one laughable statement, Creech insisted that churches address the issue "compassionately and lovingly."  I'm not sure how forcing Americans into being legally second-class citizens can be "loving."  Maybe I'm not enough of an extremist to see how that makes sense.

Regressives will tell us that they're not taking away rights from anyone.  They'll say that gay people have never had the right to marry each other, so there's no problem!  Of course, until 1967, North Carolina didn't allow interracial marriages, and those rights hadn't been "taken away," either.  Black people had never had the right to marry white people! 

But rights don't suddenly appear the first time they're allowed.  Slavery wasn't magically wrong the day it became illegal.  African Americans have always had rights.  Gay people have always had the right to marry.  The laws against them were wrong

Remember that North Carolina never actually legalized interracial marriage.  It was forced upon the state by the Supreme Court of the United States.  Now the conservatives are afraid that their own state's courts might recognize the basic human liberties of their fellows, so they're scrambling to enshrine their bigotry into their constitution.

It should be a sad day, when one of the main goals of a political party is to take away basic human rights. 

This is only the latest attack on liberty by the Regressives, but it's an important one.  Remember, Republicans want a huge government more than anything.  They want to take control of every aspect of our lives.  Under Republican rule, we have no rights, no liberties.  If they continue getting their way, we will only have the "rights" they allow us to have, and those rights will be conditional on whether or not we conform to their expectations.  Think about it: they want to control the most basic definition of family!  The amount of arrogance they must have, to think that they can dictate, by law, what a family is!  The amount of stupidity their supporters must have, to allow them to do this!

Believe me, the Regressives won't stop there.  Do you think they'll rest, once we allow them control over our families, over our morals?  There's no chance.  Conservative politicians think it's ok to deny marriage to anyone who doesn't meet their personal standards.  Right now they're focused on gay marriage, but what happens if they win that fight?  What stops them from denying marriage to Buddhists, too?  To atheists?  To Christians in the wrong denomination?  The very idea sounds ridiculous, but it's no different than what they're doing right now.

I'll tell you what stops them.  We do.


  1. The point behind a constitutional amendment, in this case at least, is to protect the original law from being declared unconstitutional by a state court. Once the amendment passes, it takes an act of the federal court system to overturn it. cf. the prop 8 kerfuffle in California. Since most proponents of such amendments are of the mind that marriage is a state's rights issue, this seems like it'd be the most defensible position for the state to take. This will be strategically less sound if the 9th circuit declares the california amendment unconstitutional. (which they very well might.) If that's the case, the supporters of the amendment would have to appeal to SCotUS, which has been loathe to accept similar cases in the past. We shall see.

    I don't think this is actually an act of bigotry so much as a distraction from the rather horrid state of affairs we now find ourselves in: in the last several years, we've been in a war, had our economy collapse, had numerous natural disasters, etc... Things that we can't do anything about. So, people pick a problem that honestly doesn't mean anything and focus on that. The easiest thing to do is pick some group to be the Other, and the perfect Other is some group that's somewhat marginalized in the first place. Gays have been the Other for the conservatives for quite a while. This defense of the sanctity (sic) of marriage bit is a last ditch response to a dying institutionally enforced discrimination. In the next decade or so, they'll have to pick some other group.

    So is this focus on distraction stupid? Probably - but we all do it. Feelings of reduced efficacy do weird things in a culture so dominated by the idea of individual independence and agency. So it's not stupid from the "their taking away our rights" standpoint, it's stupid in that we could be doing more productive work rather than wasting our time on this BS. But again, we all do it.

    (A quick aside: this seems to also fit in well with that study that showed that conservative brains focus more on the fear centers than the complex problem solving centers when faced with some issue of any importance.)

    I would argue that the progressive's "Other" is the top x% of wealth holders, and the progressive's hot button issue is quickly becoming the vast and growing chasm between the haves and the have nots. Really important to Progressives, not so much to Conservatives.

    So, while I'm not particularly happy being "the Other" in this case, I understand what the motivations behind it are & I can see that the overall movement is towards a more inclusive world for "my people." Removing barriers from gays in the military toppled one of the pillars of gays being an acceptable group for Other-hood. Marriage is next. Then... THE WORLD.

    Good times.

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