On May 8th, North Carolina voters approved Amendment One, which would ban same-sex marriage in the state. According to CNN, 61% of North Carolina voters approved the amendment.
The amendment is controversial not only because it deals a blow to LGBT marriage equality in North Carolina, but because it will impact other protections for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. For example, according to a 2011 report by four legal experts from the University of North Carolina School of Law, Amendment One would not only eliminate domestic partner benefits offered by local governments, but potentially undermine domestic violence protections for unmarried partners and create problems for child custody and visitation. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper called Amendment One "unwise" and wrote that he would not vote for it. (Hat tip to Media Matters.) The full impact of this troubling amendment remains to be seen, but this remains an unfortunate turn of events for North Carolina's LGBT community.
As expected, anti-LGBT voices among the Religious Right are delighted with the outcome.
First, in a statement at its website, Vote for Marriage NC was jubilant over the vote. Chairwoman Tami Fitzgerald described opposite-sex marriage as a "sacred institution" created by God and thanked North Carolina voters for their support. Fitzgerald argued that the amendment will ensure that "the people" of North Carolina will define marriage instead of "an activist judge or future politicians." I wonder if she would feel the same about the will of the people if the Amendment One campaign had failed?
Next, Concerned Women for America was delighted by the news. In a May 9th statement at the Concerned Women for America website, CWA CEO Penny Nance commended North Carolina Voters for supporting Amendment One. She repeated familiar claims that "traditional" marriage is defined by God and serves as the backbone of civilization.
In a May 8th press release, Family Research Council applauded the election result. The press release quotes FRC president Tony Perkins as saying that "redefining marriage remains a losing position in mainstream American politics." He praised North Carolina religious leaders, the North Carolina Family Policy Council, and the North Carolina Values Coalition for their work against same-sex marriage.
In a May 9th press release, Liberty Counsel praised North Carolina voters who disregarded "the elite media, Hollywood, and even the Obama Administration" in voting for Amendment One. Liberty Counsel chairman Matt Staver insisted same sex marriage is an alleged threat to religious liberty, insisting that the marriage equality movement seeks "dominance" rather than coexistence.
In a May 8th blog post, the National Organization for Marriage expressed delight at the Amendment One results. NOM boasted about its role in the Amendment One campaign, noting that it contributed $425,000 to the cause and that NOM president Brian Brown held a role on the campaign's executive committee.
Fortunately, supporters of LGBT rights remain undeterred, vowing to continue efforts toward LGBT equality. For instance, in a May 9th press statement, the Campaign for Southern Equality expressed its disappointment in the Amendment One vote. However, it quotes executive director Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara as affirming that a growing number of people in North Carolina endorse LGBT rights. The press release announced that the organization will launch the next step of the WE DO Campaign, vowing to continue the struggle for LGBT equality.
In a May 9th blog post at the Human Rights Campaign website, Sharon Groves extended sympathy to the couples that will be harmed by Amendment One, stressing that the LGBT rights movement is still making progress. Groves approvingly described the advocacy work of pro-LGBT clergy in North Carolina, who are mobilizing for the struggle ahead.
Amnesty International called the Amendment One vote a "setback" for human rights in North Carolina. Susan Lee, Amnesty International Director for the Americans, said that banning same-sex marriage also impedes other rights, such as the right to housing and social security.
The Amendment One vote serves as a reminder that the Religious Right is well-funded, organized, and staunch in its resistance to LGBT equality. It also serves as a reminder that plenty of people in the U.S. still embrace anti-LGBT views, so the march toward progress still has a long way to go. However, pro-LGBT advocates remain undaunted, and many more opportunities lie ahead to improve the station of the American LGBT community.
For additional commentary, visit the following links.
Religion Dispatches: North Carolina’s Gay Marriage Ban: “It’s Going to Hurt the Church”
Telling Secrets: The Monster in North Carolina
Osbourne Ink: Morning Awful: North Carolina
Groping the Elephant: Fundamentalism Gives Religion A Bad Name
Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: There will be another day for us to win