As a native North Carolinian, I was so proud to see my home state uphold the rich, Southern tradition for which that region of the U.S. has become best known: backwardness. On May 8 a majority of voters helped pass Amendment 1, thus putting North Carolina on par with neighboring equality sinkholes Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Not to be outdone, the North Carolina state constitution will now be amended to ban same-sex marriage (which was already sufficiently illegal), as well as civil unions and domestic partnerships. Talk about adding insult to injury. This will leave North Carolina's same-sex couples with absolutely no options for legal recognition of their relationships. How utterly despicable.
In preparation for the May 8 vote, conservative Christianity, ever the terrified enemy of any form of progress, reared its hideous head and spewed forth a relentless cacophony of fear-inducing untruths detailing the catastrophic byproducts of allowing same-sex couples to legally wed. The arsenal was all too familiar: legalized polygamy, bestiality and incest, utter ruination of the sanctity of marriage, the collapse of the family unit, and harm to children. Jesus H. Christ, what will we tell the children?! Naturally, to someone like me who actually lives in a state with legalized same-sex marriage, this is all completely laughable. Same-sex marriage has had little to no impact on anything. But the religious right knew it had a captive audience in the heart of the Bible Belt. After all, North Carolina is the state that shamefully elected Jesse Helms to five consecutive terms in the U.S. Senate. So the religious right amped up the fearmongering and the crazy to unprecedented levels. It worked. One of the most vocal supporters of Amendment 1 was Beth Harris, wife of Charlotte, N.C. Pastor Mark Harris, whose First Baptist Church contributed a staggering $52,000 toward support of the amendment. Prior to the May 8 vote, Mrs. Harris posted an obnoxiously pious screed on the church's website, in which she inaccurately insisted that homosexuality is a choice and most gays were molested at an early age. In the opening paragraph of her diatribe, Harris castigates us by stating, "Human beings have an incredible capacity for creating their own personal fiction and believing it." This is deliciously ironic coming from a woman who bases her every decision on the alleged teachings of an invisible man who lives in the sky.
On the morning of May 9, I awoke to rainy, gross weather. Ordinarily, it would have been the kind of day that would make me hate being in New York City. However, that morning I was thrilled to be in New York City, and in New York State, where same-sex marriage is legal, and real, and available, and recognized. I would gladly never step foot in North Carolina again, and if it weren't for the fact that I do have relatives and a few friends there, I probably wouldn't. Why would I waste my money to support the economy of a state that clearly sees me as unworthy of any level of respect? I'd much rather be where I am wanted, where I am treated equally under the law rather than discriminated against based on someone's ridiculous religion-fueled paranoia. That's the America in which I choose to live.