Same-sex marriage is not going anywhere; North Carolina residents should be embarrassed

Tyler Davis | Contributing Writer

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As the 2012 elections continue to grow closer and closer each day, it is apparent that the gay marriage issue will have a significant impact on elections at both the local and national level. Over the past few months, several states, including Washington, Maryland, and New Jersey, have passed bills legalizing same-sex marriage. On the flip side, other states including North Carolina have decided to push for constitutional amendments within their own states to ban gay marriage.  Just this past week in California, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reminded us that legislators are not the only ones who have an effect on the laws of this country. The appellate court found that Proposition 8, which had been challenged for being unconstitutional, was indeed legal under the California high law.  Considering the narrow ruling of the court, it is very unlikely that the United States Supreme Court will hear this particular case; however, when the nine Justices of the high court do one day hear a same-sex marriage case, their decision will likely set a major precedent for American lawmakers throughout the country.

Less than a decade ago, you would have been hard pressed to find a federal judge who was willing to stick out his or her neck for same-sex marriage rights. As of 2004, the only state with a statute allowing gay marriage was Massachusetts, despite thirteen states passing legislation to bar it. Since then, the overall public opinion in regards to gay marriage has changed drastically, and it’s safe to say that the opinions of most courts and legislatures have shifted as well. Current opinion polls consistently show that a slight majority of Americans support gay marriage; whereas seven or eight years ago, Americans opposed the same issue at a 2 to 1 ratio. Some state supreme courts have also ruled in favor of same-sex marriage rights, including California, Iowa, and Connecticut. If the norm for liberal judges on state supreme courts has become ruling in favor of gay marriage, then it is very probable that the liberal leaning justices on the United States Supreme Court would vote in a similar fashion.

North Carolina state legislators have voted to hold a referendum on the issue during its presidential primary elections, an election day which will see a much greater volume of conservative voters than independents and liberals. What the state’s voters will be voting on in this referendum is whether or not to add Amendment One to the North Carolina state constitution. Yes, that is correct- Amendment One.  The amendment would define marriage as between a man and women and bar the idea of same-sex marriage. Despite having a constitution which was written in 1840, this will be the first time the North Carolina legislature will attempt to pass an amendment to its state’s highest legal document. Some local officials such as Republican Mayor Perkins of Greensboro, North Carolina, have come out in opposition of the referendum, stating that marriage is a religious sacrament, which the government has absolutely no right to interfere with. Even some of the state’s major churches have come out publically and opposed the amendment.

Anyone who is a resident of North Carolina should be extremely embarrassed by this occurrence. The amendment is discriminatory towards a particular minority in our society and will in no way actually benefit anyone. Over the past 172 years, our state government has never felt the need to alter any components of our constitution, including those parts that address serious issues such as slavery and the death penalty; however, for some reason these individuals feel that the threat of gay marriage is serious enough that it requires a constitutional amendment to forbid it.

Whether or not one agrees with same-sex marriage is completely their own decision, but those who oppose it should not have any right whatsoever to tell another person that the way they wish to live their life is wrong. Although at this time the referendum is legal under the U.S. Constitution, when a gay marriage case does come before the U.S. Supreme Court, more likely than not, the result of that decision will deem this amendment, if it does pass, unconstitutional. In reality this amendment does nothing to help the citizens of North Carolina as a whole, and it will certainly cause more harm than good. If in fact the first amendment is added to the North Carolina constitution, our entire state will be taking an enormous step backwards.