The politics of voting against one’s own humanity

May 09, 2012 @ 5:41 pm | By TheFeministGriote | 1 Comment

Last night North Carolina became the new poster child for hatred and exclusion. North Carolinian’s decided that it wasn’t satisfied with gay marriage simply being illegal in their state. North Carolina wanted to make gay marriage  super illegal by writing it into their constitution. North Carolina hates gay people and fears the supposed gay agenda so much, that it was willing to sacrifice the rights of unmarried heterosexuals, just to ensure heteronormative domination!

It is a deliberate choice for me to use the words “hate gay people,” it’s not for hyperbole sake, but for truths sake. 58% of North Carolinian’s voted in favor of Amendment One.  The law which is written so poorly defines marriage in these narrow terms:  The measure defines marriage in the state constitution as between one man and one woman, and bans any other type of “domestic legal union” such as civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Amendment One is not a ban on gay marriage it is a ban on all people who live outside the puritanical laws. Any relationship that is outside of marriage is now considered less than and by law may lose some protection that it had. This list which I got from the blog Mother Jones states explicitly how this ban has the power to hurt heterosexual couples:

  • Domestic violence laws protecting people in an unmarried partnerships might be weakened. (This claim has been debated by both sides, and it’s still unclear exactly how the law would impact domestic violence victims. Opponents of Amendment 1 say many of North Carolina’s domestic violence laws offer special protections to victims who have an established relationship with their abusers. So if the amendment narrows the law to legally recognize only marriages, it might weaken these protective laws for unmarried partners. 
  • Unmarried parents could no longer have the same child custody and visitation rights as married parents.
  • Private agreements between unmarried couples might not longer have a legal basis. This means, for example, that if a couple who has cohabited and raised children together for years decides to separate, the wealthier partner would not be legally obligated to divide property with his or her partner.
  • The law could interfere with unmarried partners’ end-of-life arrangements, such as wills, trusts, and medical powers of attorney.
  • Employers would no longer have to provide benefits, such as health insurance, to the partners of unmarried employees.

My major issue with this law and the myriad of laws on the books that are just like it is that they’re so poorly written, and purposely not well explained to the average voter. One doesn’t really know that one is voting against his/her own interest. I am of the opinion if people really knew the full scope of the adverse impacts, that they wouldn’t vote in favor of this law. I’m not so idealistic to think there are people who wouldn’t sacrifice their own rights to ensure gays and lesbians aren’t recognized as full citizens, but I feel that those people are in the minority.

Rev. William Barber the chapter President of the NAACP in North Carolina who was a loud and staunch opponent of Amendment one said this about the bill back in 2011:
“A vote on the same sex marriage amendment has nothing to do with your personal and religious opinion on same sex marriage but everything to do with whether or not you believe discrimination should be codified and legalized constitutionally. We should never seek to codify discrimination into the very heart and framework of our Constitution.” –Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II

As member of an oppressed group it does not behoove me to cosign and vote away the humanity of another. Because the very vote I cast to oppress another, will ultimately come to seal my fate later on! As I am writing this blog, the President of the United States has just affirmed that he is personally okay with gay marriage. The culture war on this issue will not be settled because President Obama is” okay with legalizing gay,” but it is a start. In my opinion voting is the golden rule personified. Those of us with privilege must use our vote to align ourselves and in supporting those who are being “otherized” by larger society.

Gay men and gay women and trans men and trans women are not societal case studies, they’re human beings who have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let us through our voting trends, media consumption, consumerism, social media usage and are myriad of platforms affirm and elevate those persons who are systemically being erased, one amendment at a time.

It is time for us to forgo being single issue voters. When faced with the decision to restrict the rights of gay Americans, women, or any other group ask yourself a series of questions; Will further marginalizing this group put more food on my table? Add more jobs to this sluggish economy?  Balance the deficit? Promote human good and decency for all and not just a privileged few?

If the answers to those questions are not yes, then your vote should not be in the affirmative. Tomorrow is here. The rights of all are being threatened by one misguided state law at a time. How will you lend your support?



Categories: Mind Over Chatter

One Response to “ The politics of voting against one’s own humanity ”

  1. While I completely agree with the sentiment of your post, I think it’s dangerous for us to blatantly disregard the 40% of NC voters who did vote against Amendment One. I’m a queer woman originally from NC and over the course of this campaign I have been pleasantly shocked at the outpouring of support against this amendment from all sides of the political and religious spectrum from folks in my home state.

    What we have to remember when we’re working with people who have fundamentally different viewpoints than our own is that we have to learn to see things from their perspective. Trust me, as someone who grew up in a Southern Baptist household I know that many folks have no qualms about bashing “the gays.” These folks aren’t stupid, though: they’re afraid and uninformed. Because there is such a culture of fear about being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in the South many folks don’t come out. I, myself, didn’t come out until I was in the safe liberal haven of Chapel Hill, NC. People are much more likely to reconsider their positions on LGBT issues if they know someone personally who is affected by them (which is true for many marginalized populations). If folks are afraid to come out (either as LGBT or as an ally), folks who espouse an anti-LGBT sentiment go unchecked. Herein lies the root of the cycle of LGBT oppression in the South.

    This is my long-winded way of saying that we need to work within the framework of those who hold these sentiments. You’re right, oppression is all interlinked. This fight is going to be a long one. We’re going to have to show folks not only that LGBT folks are humans and deserve civil rights, they’ve heard that argument. We have to use the religious and moral grounds upon which they stand to prove our point to them.

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