By Ron Stutts

People Are People

By Ron Stutts Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:51 pm

I promise this is still a column about music, even though it may not appear that way at first.  I don’t consider myself to be an authority on much of anything else, and most days, not even on music, but I love it so I write about it.  These days, however, something else has been weighing heavily on my mind, so this is a good avenue for expressing my thoughts on it.  Amendment One is staring us all in the face.  A lot of folks, including me, have taken advantage of early voting, and, of course, it’s time for the actual Primary Day.  Some people like to wait until that actual day to get to the polls, and that’s cool.  Sadly, though, some don’t vote at all, and that really disturbs me.  Especially this time, with the Proposal for Amendment One on the ballot. 

Why certain legislators have chosen to lead this effort to insert discrimination into the Constitution is beyond me.  On the surface of it, it simply says that “Marriage in North Carolina shall only be recognized only if it’s between one man and one woman.”  Well, guess what?  That’s already on the books in North Carolina. So all those people who have distaste, distrust, and disgust with anyone who happens to be gay want to put this so-called amendment into law, to try and take away the possibility that same-sex marriages might someday be declared okay here in North Carolina.  Some people are so worried about this that they’re willing to put some special language (extremely poorly written as it is) into the law, because they’re so afraid that the institution of marriage is going to crumble,  My marriage isn’t threatened by the possibility of same-sex couples declaring their love for one another.  Is yours?  I really don’t care who you choose to love…that’s up to you.  And I’m not interested in writing into law some hateful and hurtful language to make sure homosexual couples can’t join the land of the married.  People are people. Why do we have to hate each other?

My concern is that thousands of registered voters will go the polls, not really understanding what implications Amendment One would have.  It’s not as simple as whether you approve of same-sex couples.  It’s far more complicated.  As I understand it, this proposal would also affect heterosexual couples, who live together, without being married.  Same-sex marriages are not legal anywhere in North Carolina as it is, but some communities such as ours recognize “domestic partnerships.”  And with that designation come certain advantages, such as the opportunity to have insurance coverage together, to care for children together, etc. Supporters of Amendment One want to get rid of that, too.  Some people say they’re supporting Amendment One on religious grounds.  Is it really the Christian thing to do to take away insurance benefits, which will hurt children all over the state?  Many religious leaders have come out in opposition to Amendment One.  How do you explain that? 

Victims of domestic violence will no longer have the same rights they have now.  Amendment One would also affect some senior citizens.  There are other implications, too, and I hope everybody will do research on this and find out all there is to know about it, and not just go blindly into the polling place and vote “Yes.”  Sadly, that’s what many citizens of our state will do.  Some supporters of Amendment One are claiming that passage wouldn’t have anything to do with any of this—that it’s simply declaring that marriage can only be between one man and one woman—but again, that’s already the law in North Carolina…which makes all of this so totally unnecessary.  Is this really what the people of North Carolina want?  If Amendment One passes, a lot of things would change, but you know what would change if it fails?  Nothing.

There are even economic reasons for voting against Amendment One.  Why would we want to portray North Carolina’s image to the world as a state that would write discrimination into law? …Discrimination against its own people!  IN these difficult economic times, we’re trying to recruit businesses to come to our community and open up business here in North Carolina.  How likely would the passing of Amendment One be to influence the decisions of business executives who want to come here and set up shop?  And how many businesses that are already here would consider packing up and moving to another state?  Here in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community, we want to be known as an inclusive community, here for the benefit of everyone.  We say we welcome everyone, regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation.  Amendment One would accomplish just the opposite of that!  Is that really the way we want to be seen?  As a state that offers great opportunities but only to certain people?  Come on.

Actually, I’m not too worried about the voters of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Orange County.  I STILL haven’t seen my first “Vote FOR the Amendment” yard sign here in our community.  And if you see one here, it’s definitely in the minority. What really worries me, though, is when I see so many of those signs in other communities.  I’ve seen a lot of them in Raleigh, and my initial thought when I see one is “Really?  Do you even know what it means?  What it would do?”  I’m convinced that a lot of people who say they’re FOR it, don’t really understand it.  And surveys have shown that people are much less likely to be FOR it once it’s explained to them exactly what it is and what it would do.  At the time of this writing, however, the majority of people who’ve been polled on this, claim to be FOR it.  It’s not our local community that worries me–it’s the rest of North Carolina that worries me.

Yeah…I’ve still got lots of music in my head.  And I will definitely get back to writing about those songs in my next column.  But I hope you don’t mind my getting this off my chest.  I just HAD to speak out.  And if writing this results in just one person who is now FOR it deciding to vote AGAINST it, it will have been worth it.  So thanks for indulging me for a few minutes. One last thing:  Don’t forget to vote.  It’s extremely important.

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