By Hamlin Wade, senior columnist
There is an old adage that argues that those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it. Sadly, it seems as though this colloquial phrase has once again reared its ugly head, this time in North Carolina politics. Last fall, the North Carolina House and Senate passed a motion to place an amendment in the state constitution. It was voted on by both houses and it carried in a democratic process. This process is routine. Amendments are brought before the voters of North Carolina frequently often without pomp or circumstance. However, this amendment is of interest given its content.
Amendment One would provide explicit language to the state constitution stating that the only legally recognizable union or marriage must be heterosexual. Referred to as the Anti-LGBTQ Marriage Act, this amendment would do more than make it impossible for homosexual couples to marry. It could also impact the treatment of domestic violence cases for homosexual couples, visitation rights for children and end-of-life actions. Regardless of your political ideology, it's time for our state and for America to wake up and realize the dangerous path that our country is on.
The amendment to ban same-sex marriages is more than a political move. If passed, it is a statement that says that homosexual individuals deserve fewer rights than heterosexuals. An arbitrary factor -- sexual orientation -- will be used to determine an individual's worth in society. If you prefer the opposite sex, you are afforded full benefits, the ability to see your children and the ability to see your love ones when they are on their death bed. However, if you are a homosexual, you won't be as lucky. You may not be protected by the law in domestic abuse cases, you may not be able to visit your partner in the hospital and you may not be able to care for the children that you raised.
This is not the first time that our country has considered others to be inferior based on an arbitrary ruling. It wasn't that long ago that racial apartheid existed in America. Before that, we enslaved individuals based on a trait of which they had no control. Today, we realize that we were wrong to create such a hierarchical system based in race and ethnicity. Why is it that we still fail to see the wrong in basing a system of worth on sexual preference?
The North Carolina House leader suggested that the motive for passing the amendment is to protect the state from child custody cases of homosexual couples. Representative Paul Stam suggested that with the new law in New York allowing same-sex marriage, if a homosexual couple were to relocate to North Carolina, the state would not be able to afford the child custody cases in the event of divorce. If this is the logic we plan to use to guide our politics, then Representative Stam should make heterosexual marriage contraband as well. With more than half of heterosexual marriages ending in divorce it seems illogical for a man to argue that his motive for legislation is a fear of divorce rates. We can very easily solve custody cases by simply banning all heterosexual marriages.
However, I am not naïve. I am not going to assume that this short article will somehow convince millions of citizens that what the state of North Carolina is proposing to do is wrong. However, I do believe that when intelligent and open-minded people actually process the content of the legislation in Amendment One, they will realize the danger of the act. Our country has come so far in the past one hundred years. It would be a shame to set it back once again.
This isn't a debate based on politics. It's a debate in humanity. Be a human and care about your brother, your aunt, your friend or a stranger. Think about the rights you would want afforded to you and the chances you wish to have with the ones you love. Think about the harm that this amendment will cause and take action. We've been down this road of arbitrary hatred before. It's time to choose a new path.