Amendment 1 is that monster, filled with primal hate and reptilian rage.
It was created by fashioning together bits and pieces picked up from the church's toxic waste dump of sexism, heterosexism and homophobia.
North Carolina already had a ban on same-sex civil unions. So do 29 other states in the Union. The wording of the language in this Amendment, however, makes it the most extreme of any state thus far, and modifies North Carolina’s constitution to declare “marriage between one man and one woman” as “the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized.”
In other words, the Amendment not only bans same-sex marriage in North Carolina, but also prevents state validation and recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships.
Will it be struck down as unconstitutional? No doubt. In time.
Meanwhile, the monster rages on, doing more damage to the fabric of this country and the various constellations of families who live here.
A group of family law professors across the state called the language vague and untested, and warned that, in addition to applying to all variations of same-sex unions, it could also apply to the more than 150,000 straight couples in the state who live together but are unmarried. This could invalidate domestic-violence protections, undercut child custody arrangements and jeopardize hospital visiting rights, they said.
According to a recent poll, only 31 percent of voters could correctly identify what Amendment 1 would actually do, while another 34 percent admitted they didn’t know its consequences. The poll also found that 28 percent of voters think the amendment would ban only same-sex marriage, and that 7 percent think it would legalize same-sex marriage (!!!).
Ah, ignorance may be bliss, but that bliss only lasts as long as people keep themselves ignorant of the value and worth of LGBT people and the families of love we create.
These "good Christian people" do not consider themselves 'hateful'.
“We are not anti-gay — we are pro-marriage,” Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of the executive committee for the pro-amendment Vote for Marriage NC, said at a victory rally in Raleigh, where supporters ate pieces of a wedding cake topped by figures of a man and a woman. “And the point, the whole point is simply that you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s design for marriage based on the demands of a group of adults.”
I mean, what else are "good Christian people" supposed to do?
Well, except there's this: According to Chris Fitzsimon of North Carolina Policy Watch, Amendment 1 was authored by The Alliance Defense Fund.
The president of the ADF is Alan Sears, who along with Craig Osten, wrote a book a few years ago, “The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today.”
The book is heavily promoted by the organization and many other zealots on the so-called Christian right. I read it this weekend after seeing Stam’s comments. It is disgusting.
The authors just don’t believe that same-sex marriage is wrong, they believe that it leads to “polygamy, endogamy (the marriage of blood relatives), bestiality and child marriage,” comments by the way that Stam himself made during the legislative debate last year.
They say that “pedophilia and homosexuality are intrinsically linked” and they see a conspiracy everywhere to promote the “radical homosexual agenda.”
Sears and the ADF believe people can be “cured” of being gay through religious conversion and they cite the case of John Paulk, who appeared on the cover of Newsweek as an “ex-gay” and became an activist for groups on the Christian right. Paulk resigned from the movement after controversy erupted after he was spotted at a gay bar in Washington.
The amendment that the Alliance wrote reflects their offensive philosophy that gay couples deserve no rights—not marriage, not civil unions, not employee benefits, not even privacy in their own homes.
That’s what it is really on the ballot, a referendum on the basic human rights of tens of thousands of people in our communities.
Of course, scripture does not substantiate these wild claims, but they use the Levitical codes and parts of Pauline Letters to substantiate their revulsion and hate.
Will Amendment 1 be struck down as unconstitutional? No doubt. In time.
Here's the thing. One of my friends in North Carolina - who happens to be a heterosexual woman - posted this on her FaceBook page.
The NC State Board of Elections is reporting that voter turnout yesterday was 34.37% of registered voters (6,296,759 registered in an estimated adult population of 7,348,521).
There were 1,303,952 votes FOR Amendment One. If I did the math correctly, that means that 20.7% of registered voters (and only 17.7% of adults of voting age) were able to chisel bigotry into our state constitution yesterday.
The next time someone tells me they don't vote because their vote "doesn't count," I'm going to hit them with a clue-by-four.
Fear then breads prejudice.
Prejudice destroys brain cells.
It was also created by apathy. Only 20% of the registered voters in North Carolina set loose the monster of Amendment 1. Which begs the question: where were the other 80%?
Probably running away in fear from the monster known at Amendment 1.
Here's how to create a monster: Place equal parts of ignorance, fear and prejudice in the voting booth, stir together with a large dose of apathy, and season to taste with Seven Clobber Verses of Scripture (which can be purchased inexpensively - even obtained freely - from the pulpits of many conservative, evangelical or fundamental churches). Cook to a full boil over a hot political stove for several months.
Voila! There is the perfect recipe for creating an Amendment 1 Monster of your very own.
Will Amendment One be struck down as unconstitutional? No doubt. In time.
My hope is with those bishops and clergy and laity in churches who organized against Amendment 1 who were, thanks be to God, vocal and visible and present.
That includes all three of the state's bishops, Curry, Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III of East Carolina, and Rt. Rev. G. Porter Taylor of Western North Carolina, who signed a joint letter condemning the proposed amendment. Part of their letter reads:
“We oppose Amendment One because the love of God and the way of love that has been revealed in Jesus of Nazareth compels us to do so. We oppose Amendment One because every time we baptize someone in The Episcopal Church, the entire congregation vows to ‘strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.’ We oppose Amendment One because it is unjust and it does not respect the dignity of every human being in the State of North Carolina. If passed, it will harm not only law-abiding gay and lesbian citizens but other men, women and innocent children in our state.”They were not alone. Indeed, there were at least two organizations I know of, Clergy for Equality and Pastors Against Amendment One who fought the good fight.
They will prevail, eventually. And, because of them, the church will live on to continue and usher in the Realm of God because of their witness and activism.
How can I make that claim?
I have been a Christian activist for the greater part of my life. My earliest memories are as a child, sitting 'round my grandparents' kitchen table, listening to my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and older cousins as they worked in the labor union movement in Fall River, MA to bring fair wages and safe working conditions to the mills and factories in that town.
We also met in Parish Halls and our priests stood on the picket lines with us while the church helped to feed and clothe the children of families who were on the strike lines.
I've spent the greater part of my ordained life as an activist for People With AIDS, for the ordination of LGBT people and the liturgical rites of blessings in the church for the covenants they make before God. I have also worked for parental rights for LGBT families in the church and court systems, and continue to work to fight against racism everywhere.
Here's what I've learned: When monsters like Amendment 1 are created, it invariably wakes up the sleeping giant of apathetic people who simply can't - won't - believe that "good Christian people" are capable of such hate and rage, all in the name of Jesus.
As Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch wrote this morning:
And yet, despite these handicaps, the “against” vote was surprisingly large. Had just a couple hundred thousand people — a tiny fragment of the state’s adult population — seen the light and changed their minds, the amendment would have failed outright. If you think about it, it’s really quite remarkable.
Indeed, if the experts and Public Policy Polling are to be believed – and when it came to the actual vote, they were just about spot on – a large majority of North Carolinians oppose the actual substance of the amendment, but simply couldn’t connect the amendment to its actual impact. Many voters didn’t actually understand the amendment at all!
Twenty years ago people picketed and pilloried Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh for performing “holy union” ceremonies within its own walls that had no legal effect. Last night, voters in the county where Pullen is located voted against marriage discrimination for everyone by a large majority.
The proponents of the Amendment may have won the battle last night, but it will ultimately prove to be a Pyrrhic victory. Amendment opponents would, obviously, never have chosen this path, but now that it’s been thrust upon them, there’s no denying the following: 1) the day on which North Carolinians will no longer tolerate marriage discrimination is coming sooner rather than later, and 2) the last eight months have only served to expedite the process.
I know how this is going to sound, but I'm going to say it anyway: without Anita Bryant, I don't think we'd have Marriage Equality today in as many states as we do.
It has taken more than thirty years, but I do believe that when General Convention ends on July 12, we will walk away from Indianapolis with a process to authorize liturgical rites of blessings for the covenants made by LGBT people.
And, we will begin the process to change our "marriage canons" to be pronoun neutral.
Will Amendment One be struck down as unconstitutional? No doubt. In time.
But, don't pick up your pitch forks and torches. Instead, put on the armor of love. It's the only thing that can kill the monster of rage and hate, born of ignorance and prejudice and fear.
Roll up your sleeves, kids. The hard work has just begun.