This Tuesday, May 8 North Carolina became the 30th state to adopt a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. I grew up in the Midwest, so I am no stranger to religious-based bigotry and conservative politics. The South is not much different.
Fear and ignorance are powerful motivators. This constitutional amendment vote brought out the worst in the people of our state. The divisive nature of the political atmosphere was disheartening along with the disappointment of the final vote. I could see it in the faces of my friends watching the election returns: sadness, anger, disbelief.
The Amendment 1 vote reminded me why my husband and I chose to move to Charlotte, N.C. (No, it wasn't because Jesse Helms was the senator.) On several occasions, we both considered living in "more liberal, progressive" places like Chicago, New York, or San Francisco. "All gays go to liberal places," I recall us thinking. Instead, we wanted to go where we could help build a community, be visible, and create necessary, positive change for LGBT people.
And we did. Charlotte, N.C. is our home. We create change every day simply being who we are: out and open as a gay couple. Despite the passing of Amendment 1, I am still proud of that decision over 15 years ago. I am also proud of all those who worked tirelessly to defeat the anti-gay-marriage amendment. We did not pick this fight, and there is no doubt that we made substantial progress.
All this vote proves is that education takes more time. As individuals became educated about the amendment, their support for passing the measure declined. And with more time, more conversations, we will undoubtedly win. History is on the side of equality in North Carolina and for all LGBT Americans.
I will not give up on you, North Carolina. None of us will. Conversations have begun, and visibility is greater than ever. The progressive coalitions built by this battle against Amendment 1 will only strengthen our chances for LGBT wins in the future.
No vote will change whom I love or whom I call my family. I will still be here regardless, living my life openly and honestly. My husband and I are still your neighbors. We are still taxpayers. One day, very soon, the margin of victory will shift in the favor of equality for my family.
Together we will find justice. Love will always endure -- and prevail.
Follow Shane L. Windmeyer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ShaneWindmeyer