Discrimination in the Constitution, Hate in the Heart
Yesterday, North Carolinians voted to write discrimination into their state constitution, joining 29 other states that have constitutional bans on marriage equality. Amendment 1, which passed with 61 percent in favor to 39 percent against, however, goes much further than those passed in other states. Whereas other states have bans restricting “only” marriage equality, this amendment also prohibits any recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships, regardless of the couple’s sexual orientations.
There is little doubt that, one day, this hateful measure will be repealed – even one of its key supporters has recognized that the amendment will not last more than two decades. The tide has already turned: The day before the vote, a poll found that more Americans support marriage equality than oppose it. As it says in Jewish tradition, “The stone which the builders rejected [will] become the cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22). But for now, the damage has been done. Yesterday, 1.3 million of voters said to their gay, lesbian, and bisexual neighbors, friends, children, sisters, and brothers, “You are not as good as I am; you are worth less than I am.”
Those in favor of Amendment 1, mostly notably the group Vote for Marriage NC, ran a campaign of hate directed against LGBT North Carolinians. Under the auspices of “protecting marriage,” they cast lesbians, gays and bisexuals as a “threat” to children and families, fretting that children might have to learn about same-sex relationships in schools (which they should, anyway, as part of a truly comprehensive sex education program) and that the number of children born out of wedlock would increase if LGB people were allowed to marry. In a chilling sermon calling for the passage of the Amendment, Pastor Sean Harris told parents, “… the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist,” as a way of “squashing [homosexuality] like a cockroach” within their children.
These attitudes and yesterday’s results are proof that the fight is far from over – we cannot afford for it to be. Those who do not recognize LGBT people as made in the image of the Divine would have us oppress our neighbors; they would have us hate our brothers and our sisters. Knowing this, we must not only work to rid ourselves of homophobia – we must work to rid our society of homophobia. It is not enough to accept our friends who are LGBT – we must be active participants in their struggle for equality. When so many nurture hate in their heart, it is not enough to shrug our shoulders and say, “What business is it of mine who you love?”
Tomorrow, we will take up the fight for equality again. But today, let us pray:
Fountain of life, You nourish us with Your waters. Quench our thirst for acceptance of self. Help us to feel your Divine Presence when others question the righteousness of our lives. Let us come to know that all things are possible in our lives: love and hope, caring and friendship and family. May those of us who are deep within the closet find courage and comfort through You. Bless our community and its leaders. Grant us, O God, health and prosperity. Keep us strong as we pursue justice and civil rights. Ease the pain of those who are ill and inspire each of us to perform acts of living kindness and tzedekah each and every day. Fountain of life, we praise You and thank You for creating us in Your image.
Image courtesy of Protect All NC Families