THE BLOG

Stop Fighting to Legalize Discrimination

02/25/2015 02:43 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

I don't have time for this.

I have clients waiting for web pages I'm writing.

Our dogs need a walk.

I need to make a smoothie.

And vacuum.

And feed our cat.

But I had to push the pause button on all of that because a part of my brain is preoccupied with the nonsense that unfolded in Raleigh, N.C., this morning.

It seems a bill that would permit magistrates and registers of deeds to opt out of marrying same-sex couples on religious grounds passed out of a state senate committee and could get a full hearing on the Senate floor this week.

Let me spell that out real quick: Government officials -- paid by taxpayer funds -- could decide whom they will and will not marry. Yes, the focus of the bill is on LGBT couples, but proponents admitted it could also allow discrimination against interracial couples. You know, the kind of discrimination we saw about 40 years ago.

Now do you see why it might be tough for a white woman like me, in love with an African-American woman like my wife, to get much done today?

Goodness.

I took to Facebook, asking someone, anyone to help me understand why North Carolina politicians like Representative Tim Moore and Senator Phil Berger are expending so much energy trying to keep people from simply marrying whom they want to marry.

My Facebook pals, mostly level-headed, openhearted folks back in my home state of Iowa, are scratching their noggins, too. Same-sex marriage has been legal there since 2009, when Iowa became the fourth state in the country to legalize it. That doesn't mean everyone accepts it -- one friend said her sister just married her girlfriend and most of their family doesn't approve. Why? My friend isn't sure. "Something to do with their church," she says. Another friend from a conservative family says his family boils it down to this: "It's just wrong. What next -- marry your dog?"

My Facebook friends chalk it up to fear, to anger and ignorance. Like me, they want it all to stop -- for our politicians to get on to more important stuff, like housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, saving our planet and fixing potholes.

My wife and I married on October 10, 2014, the first day same-sex marriage was legalized in North Carolina, the state we've called "home" since 2013. Jeff Thigpen and his staff at the Register of Deeds office in Greensboro not only did what they were supposed to do, which was marry us, but they did it with kindness and respect.

I came home with a marriage license and a vow to not waste anymore precious time trying to understand why people oppose marriages like mine.

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That lasted four months.

Senate Bill 2 is, as Rob Schofield posted on The Progressive Pulse, "a gussied up effort to legalize discrimination."

It seems impossible that in 2015 I need to write my legislators and tell them they don't have the license to discriminate. But I did that early this afternoon, thanks to a nudge by Equality North Carolina.

I'm so grateful to people like Equality NC's Executive Director Chris Sgro. I met him briefly when we were out celebrating our marriages last October, and have followed him and his organization on social media since.

If I've got web pages to write, I suspect Mr. Sgro has more important things to do than fight this kind of silliness.

Here's hoping SB2 will die swiftly on the Senate floor. And here's hoping that we can stop spending our precious energy and brainpower on arguing for, and against, discrimination of any kind.