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By Donnabeth Leffler

Defeating Discrimination

By Donnabeth Leffler Posted March 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I spent part of last evening in a room overflowing with good will.  It was in a Chapel Hill home and the wine was flowing, the food and conversation excellent but what made it truly grand for me was the aforementioned good will.

Why is the conviviality so notable?  One would think amid the wine and the conversation, of course it would be pleasant.  It’s notable because the evening was about politics and lately, in this country, a lot of politics is venomous.

The home of John Sweet and Greg Fitch was teeming with people united in their desire to defeat the May 8 ballot question of whether the North Carolina constitution should “provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State”.  

I don’t think the attendees’ shared opinion of Amendment One is the only explanation for the cheerful ambiance; I credit the underlying message: Those opposed to the amendment are not trying to take away anyone’s rights, nor fault how anyone lives.  It is much easier to be affable when not being judgmental. 

Same sex marriage is already illegal in North Carolina.  Even if you agree with that, I questioned in a previous column why anyone would also need a constitutional amendment or to spend public money getting it on a ballot.  But the May 8th vote is about much more than same sex marriage.

It is also about business and therefore jobs (which of course makes this topic eligible for a column on spending!).  Top talent doesn’t exist in any one population.  Is North Carolina willing to be less than welcoming to businesses that want to bring or attract the best and brightest no matter their orientation?  Will extraordinary employees flee if they can no longer receive benefits for their partners nor their children?  What about the children of those who stay?  Do they deserve the same rights and care as the children of their mom or dad’s colleagues?  

The text of the ballot question also tosses out the rights of unmarried straight couples: “….marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid…” [italics are mine]. Do we really want our constitution to decide if our adult, consensual relationships are legal?

A recent Associated Press story told of how North Carolina stands alone in the South, surrounded by states that have already changed their constitutions to codify a ban on same sex marriage.  The reporter points out the civil rights arguments being used now by Amendment One opponents hark back to a time when much of the violence bypassed North Carolina.  Last night former UNC Chancellor James Moeser urged us to once again differentiate our state from South Carolina and to vote no on May 8th.  

Let us all find ourselves soon in a convivial gathering across our state, coming together on Election Day to decide that North Carolina should once again stand alone in the region in its tolerance and care for all human beings.

Please feel free to comment below or to write to me at Donnabeth@Chapelboro.com.  As I wrote the last time I tackled this subject: It’s an emotionally charged issue so I ask that all notes and comments be courteous.  Disagree and I’m happy to read it but any vitriol will be disregarded.  

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