Marriage Amendment Misses Point
I feel a tiny bit sorry for the Republican legislators in Raleigh who believe we need a constitutional amendment forbidding same-sex marriage.
Such obvious manipulation of the electorate might achieve what these legislators are seeking, namely their re-election and the eventual usurpation of all political power in the state, except that this latest constitutional amendment malarkey is such an obvious political ploy that even thick-headed voters are likely to catch on.
Moreover, it's shameful that the legislature was called back into session - at the expense of the taxpayers - to consider the amendment. They should be forced to pay for the session out of their own pockets.
The proposed amendment will be on the May 8, 2012, primary ballot. If approved by voters, it would go into effect, even though we already have a law on the books forbidding such unions.
So why do I feel sorry for these misguided souls?
It's this simple: Nothing they can do will turn back the clock. If their intention is to ensure that their little world remains as it is or was, they're bound to suffer one disappointment after another.
Sure, they can make political adjustments to existing laws, add amendments to the state constitution and rally round their convenient cause de jour, but it's only a matter of time before the "liberal-thinking" culture overtakes them.
If they doubt that this is true, I suggest they watch an episode of "I Love Lucy" followed immediately by an episode of "Two and a Half Men."
Fifty years has greatly altered manners and mores in our society - and even if the state's politics remain conservative, popular culture will go careening onward.
In the end, the world will take little notice of our legislators' malevolent meddling.
Those who offer exceptions to this premise usually cite the years following the Johnson administration as an example of how conservatism can re-establish itself in the country.
The flat-out defeat of George McGovern seemed to be the end of any liberal political agenda, but think back: That's when the draft ended, DDT was banned, abortion was legalized, the American Psychiatric Association "de-diseased" homosexuality, and we pulled our military out of Vietnam. It wasn't such a conservative time after all.
And the great, wonderful, magical Ronald Reagan? He ran up the national debt by 21.1 percent, the largest percentage increase in the country's history, and the number of workers on the federal payroll rose by 61,000 under The Gipper.
Have we ever suffered through a time when a shift in sexual mores caused such an uproar? Sure we have, hundreds of times.
What comes to mind is the 1968 scandal involving sophomore Linda LeClair, who was punished by the Barnard College administration for living off campus with her boyfriend.
The story was all over the national news, and I recall a below-the-fold headline on the front page of The Baltimore Sun. Conservatives were livid with poor Linda and her beau. What had happened to America's morals? What would become of the country if unmarried people lived together?
The answer was predictable - nothing. Ms. LeClair was barred from using the college dining facilities, where I'm sure the food was yummy. But the culture went pleasantly about its business. Eventually, Ms. LeClair dropped out of college and moved with her boyfriend to a commune, where he kept himself busy resisting the draft. Gosh, such rebels! Ah, me ...
When discussing same-sex marriage, there's always the argument that such a legal arrangement will have detrimental financial implications. And it would. For the gay couple. A demographer at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law who researches sexual orientation law and public policy says the state itself would see a "noticeable economic benefit" from legalized same-sex marriage.
So what it comes down to is one group of citizens denying the civil rights of another. If the same-sex amendment passes, we'll end up, as we have so often in the past, apologizing for being rubes.
Stephen Smith lives in Southern Pines. Contact him at email@example.com.
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