In the fall of 2006, after we’d bought our fixer-upper farm property in Candler, my partner and I decided to have a child. This was not a decision that we took lightly. I initially didn’t want to bring a child into this world to experience the homophobia and intolerance that I had experienced. Our beautiful daughter was born in 2008. She was the ultimate game-changer. We decided, before we gave birth, to get married; our only option at the time was to do so in California (this was before the Proposition 8 debacle).
I stood on that beach in California, half a world away from home, and I made promises. My partner did, too. Friends jokingly said, “Well, it’s the right thing to do if you knock a woman up — you marry her.” But the point that I’d like to get across is that we made this decision — to bring a child into the world — together.
The powers-that-be in our home state of North Carolina would like to see our so-called “alternative lifestyle” wiped off the map; if they don’t have to see it, or interact with it, then it doesn’t exist. Never mind that gay people have been around since the beginning of humanity.
Amendment One stipulates that “Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized by this state.” It seems that our leaders are leaving it to voters to decide on the rights of a minority, and more specifically, our family.
First off, our family already has no recognition. Adoption by same-sex partners in North Carolina was declared illegal and immoral by “activist judges” about a year ago. Same-sex parents literally went to bed with their existing adoptions intact, and woke up the next morning with zero legal protections. In other words, if something happened to my partner, then my child could be taken away from me. My partner’s crackhead cousin would have more rights to the daughter that I have raised from day one (unless I flee to California and pray for a different sort of “activist judge” to lend some sanity). This amendment just serves to rub salt in that wound. Marriage between same-sex couples is already illegal in N.C.
I honestly don’t know all the ramifications of this bill. What I do know is that the gay community has been thrown under the bus for as long as I can remember. But it’s personal now. There’s a pair of beautiful, 3-year-old brown eyes that I look into, and reassure her that everything is OK, that we will always keep her safe. And be together. These are the things that are important to her.
My partner and I work hard, we pay our taxes, we give back to our community, we are good people. I suppose (because I truly do realize that I’m preaching to the choir among most of my fellow Ashevilleans) that I have questions for the proponents of this bill.
Why? Why would you use your power and privilege to create so much suffering for your fellow citizens? Why would you subject the rights of a minority to this? Why would you draft this amendment, that so blatantly appeals to people’s fear, rather than to people’s sense of optimism? And finally, if your legislation is so worthy, so upright, then why do you have to lie to further your agenda? Why would you go further than the initial marriage amendment that already exists in N.C., to strip even more rights from the gay community? And then lie about it?
I’ve had people argue with me, had them say “Call it something else; don’t call it marriage.” This amendment goes further than banning gays from marrying. If I were on the other side of this, I’d be asking myself, “Really? I can, according to my religious beliefs, dictate, or even negate, someone else’s relationship? In America?”
Call it something else, but don’t call it land of the free.
I suppose there are people that would have us go back into the closet, as if that would make things “easier” on everyone. Back into the closet with the bars and the drug and alcohol abuse and the teen suicides and the isolation and loneliness. What we want is the ability to have healthy relationships, to have families that don’t necessarily look like yours, but still have some semblance of recognition, so that our kids don’t have to feel shame, like they’re constantly outnumbered.
So that brings me back. I’m asking you to help defeat this amendment. I’m asking you, even though there are probably a million things you could be doing on a Tuesday in May, to vote against this bullshit. Because maybe I’ve helped you somehow; maybe I’ve played your benefit, maybe helped your musical project, maybe given you something of myself. I’m asking you to help vote this thing down, maybe just so we can look the powers-that-be in Raleigh squarely in the eye, and let them know that our little “cesspool of sin” takes care of it’s own.