Amendment One is an affront to all North Carolinians
Aaron Hall, Staff Writer
April 20, 2012
Filed under Opinion
Thomas Jefferson had a quote that summed up his views on other people’s religious beliefs: “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
However, combinations of religious, philosophical and ideological elements have converged in North Carolina that do indeed add insult and injury to many of our fellow citizens.
I’m speaking of course about the proposed Amendment One to North Carolina’s Constitution.
This disgusting distraction and heinous waste of taxpayers’ time would, contrary to what many people believe, not only affect same-sex couples. Instead, many of the provisions of the amendment would have a detrimental effect on unmarried heterosexual couples as well.
What the amendment would do is make it impossible for the state to recognize the legal rights of any unmarried couple. Only “a marriage between a man and woman” would be acknowledged by the state for legal purposes.
According to Progress NC and the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families, at stake are rights of hospital visitation, child custody and protections against domestic violence currently held by unmarried couples in North Carolina.
Healthcare benefits for the children of unmarried policyholders, gay or straight, would be nullified, as would domestic partner benefits offered by many companies. In some cases, children could be taken away from someone who has looked after them their entire life if that person is an unmarried parent.
In perhaps the oddest and most perverse twist regarding possible effects of the amendment, Progress NC claims that many unmarried senior couples would be forced to wed in order to maintain certain pension, healthcare, and Social Security survivor’s benefits.
So, your widowed grandmother would be forced to choose between her monthly check and the right to make decisions for her boyfriend if he were hospitalized. Talk about family values.
The fact is, the proposal isn’t specifically about not recognizing same sex unions as marriages. North Carolina already doesn’t recognize them. The bigger story is that conservative lawmakers also want every straight couple to get married, whether they want to or not.
If you add this to the fact that they also want to control access to birth control and make difficult end-of-life decisions for families, it’s hard to see where exactly their “small government” philosophy comes into play.
It seems that many conservative lawmakers are happy reducing government interference in such matters as minimum wage, environmental standards, and child labor laws (yes, child labor laws — Google “Republican child labor”), but when it comes to the most personal decisions of our lives, such as when to have a baby and when and to whom to get married, this laissez-faire philosophy seems to disappear.
To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, two grown men clipping coupons together or two consenting women spending a Sunday at Costco neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. Neither does the unmarried straight couple next door whose apartment has only one bedroom.
We have bigger things to worry about right now, such as jobs, escalating gas prices, and tuition rates that will not cease to rise out of the middle class’s reach.
While I would prefer marriage equality today for same sex-couples, we first have to fend off this attack on the rights of all of us. Vote no to Amendment One on May 8.