Is This Amendment Really Necessary?
And the award for Most Insensitive Recent Comment by a North Carolina Politician in a Supporting Role goes to … Bill James! (Applause punctuated by boos.)
James is a member of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners and a longtime supporter of a proposed state amendment to ban gay marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships.
The proposal has never gotten anywhere in the past. But with the installation of a Republican majority, the General Assembly in Raleigh now seems likely to pass the thing and put it on the ballot in the 2012 presidential-year election. James is eager to see that happen, and to see the people of the state then vote to enshrine it in the state constitution.
Which led him to tell a reporter the other day:
“The purpose is … to put a big letter of shame on the behavior. We don’t want them here. We don’t want them marrying. If you’re going to do it in San Francisco, it’s your own business.” Then, predicting easy passage by the voters, he added in an e-mail: “The public in my opinion knows the difference between perversity and diversity.”
The letter of shame belongs on him — and on others who would use such benighted and bigoted language.
Mr. James aside, we repeat our editorial assertion of last November that there is no reason for such an amendment — except the obvious political one that seeks to turn personal attitudes into constitutional writ. North Carolina already has a ban on gay marriage written into state law, and there have been no indications of any desire on the part of the public to revoke that prohibition.
This effort, therefore, appears to be nothing but grandstanding on the part of newly elected lawmakers seeking to throw their political weight around and win some points from those voters who share their bias.
As we have also noted previously in this space, it is odd that legislators who got elected on a promise to focus like a laser on putting the state’s economic ship on a course to recovery are now spending so much of their time and energy pushing instead to advance their conservative social agenda on so many dubious fronts.
Trying to Lock Us In?
One reason they’re moving so quickly to stir up the same-sex-marriage issue may be that they know time is not on their side. With younger Americans clearly less hung up than many of their elders on this matter, writing the ban into the constitution now may offer a hoped-for way to get a jump on the future by chiseling it into stone now.
It might not fly even now. A new Elon University Poll suggests that a majority of North Carolinians oppose an official prohibition of same-sex marriages. The survey, conducted Feb. 20-24, found that more than 55 percent of those contacted by telephone said they would oppose the marriage ban amendment, as opposed to 38 percent who would support it.
This whole issue is ultimately going to be resolved by the federal courts anyway. At this point, pushing for a state amendment can only pit legislators — and later voters — against each other in needless battle, distracting us all from issues that really matter.
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