Amendment One Is Discriminatory
By Ed Squire
Special to The Pilot
On May 8, voters will decide the fate of Amendment One - "a constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in the state."
In my opinion, we need to seriously consider how to cast our ballots. I've done that and have decided to vote against Amendment One for several reasons.
- First, don't we have a responsibility as a society to adhere to the basic ethical precept "first do no harm"? This amendment may harm children cared for by 150,000 same-gender parents. A report in the July 2006 issue of Pediatrics states the official views of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
The enactment of marriage amendments without consideration for same-gender parents and their children causes children to experience economic, legal and familial insecurities. Prohibiting same-sex marriages subverts the stability of these unions and may void state-based protections, rights and benefits.
To illustrate, the passage of similar laws has frightened children who've been bullied and called "faggots," and has jeopardized family medical leave and health insurance benefits.
- Second, being GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender) seems more likely to be determined biologically than volitionally and, at a minimum therefore, these behaviors should be viewed as normal, not sinful or aberrant.
Indeed, since 1974 the American Psychiatric Association has maintained that homosexuality is normal, not a sexual dysfunction, and it most certainly is not "adult incest," as amendment proponents have characterized it. To the contrary, numerous professional/scientific organizations, e.g., the American Medical Association, the American Bar Association and the National Education Association, have adopted the same stance.
Science has yet to fully reveal the cause(s) of being GLBT, but one well established pattern proves that one in seven gay males has had their gender orientation determined biologically. It's called the "older brother effect," because as the number of older brothers increases, so too does the probability of being gay. This occurrence holds true only for biological brothers, not step-brothers.
Thirty-eight studies have elucidated and supported the conclusion that these gay men were born gay. Should they then be denied the right to a publicly recognized relationship, one that may be just as long-term and just as loving as those of heterosexual couples?
For those who would deny science and continue to argue that homosexuality is a choice, consider this question: "Who would choose a gender orientation that brings with it insults and bullying, hate and murder, depression and suicide?"
- Third, Amendment One is discriminatory because of what it does do. That is to demean, cheapen, attack, assault, impugn, disparage, discredit, invalidate, subvert, vitiate, undermine, debase, belittle and deprecate the personhood of this minority group. Furthermore, it duplicates the 1996 statute which states, "Marriages, whether performed by common law, contract or performed outside of North Carolina between individuals of the same gender, are not valid in North Carolina."
Amendment One is also discriminatory because of what it does not do, namely to meet the state's responsibilities under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, a clause that says, "No state shall deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of laws." It's hard to claim that Amendment One in any way, shape or form gives equal protection to same-gender couples.
Readers may recall the February decision on Proposition 8 in California, a referendum but otherwise comparable to Amendment One. The California Supreme Court, in an 85-page opinion, rebutted each reason for denying equal protection to GLBT individuals and threw out the law. Why? Because it violated this same Equal Protection Clause.
Please keep in mind that federal courts may overrule provisions of any state's constitution. Since further Proposition 8 appeals are expected, there's the potential for a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
What Amendment One actually does is to contradict and renounce our own North Carolina Constitution, which says that " all persons are created equal." More broadly speaking, 29 states have failed to meet their obligations under this same clause by passing marriage amendments. Do we really want this particular amendment to be the very first in the 41-year history of our current constitution?
On May 8, North Carolinians may distinguish themselves. Why should we NOT be the first and only state, among 29 others, to have rejected such an amendment and remain the only Southern state without one? We do have a choice. Do we further usurp the rights of GLBT persons or use the power of the ballot box to prevent it?
In my opinion, its time to stop what this amendment embodies - the institutionalization of injustice and with it, the perpetration of prejudice.
Ed Squire is a retired physician who lives in Seven Lakes.
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