(I started this post on Wednesday morning, and have been ruminating on it ever since. At the heart of the Amendment One issue is the notion that we shouldn’t even be voting on this- we shouldn’t vote on people’s rights!- and it makes crafting an argument or response difficult emotionally.
Anyway, this isn’t perfect, but sometimes you just have to let your imperfect thoughts out there and hope people will understand- or ask if they don’t- what you’re trying to get at. What I’m trying to get at here is that with more public pressure, legal challenges, and voting the supporters of this bill out of office, we can beat the Amendment itself. But with better information, gentle but constant reminders, and love, maybe we can change the hearts of the people who voted for this Amendment, too.)
I’m disappointed, sad, but sad, not surprised by yesterday’s vote on Amendment One. I allowed myself to think that we might have a chance once the Republican nominee was set- fewer people who would likely vote for the amendment would be likely to come out- but once the polls started coming in, my heart sunk.
Now NC is the butt of the country’s jokes and the target for its derision for the rest of this news day, if not longer. And the criticism is deserved- 61% of our voting citizens that came out voted for an discriminatory law that is potentially costly as well as dangerous.
I want to scream, “We’re not all like that! We’re still fighting! We will beat this thing!”
But the fact is, this thing- this terrible, awful, hateful amendment- is part of our state Constitution now. We voted these state congresspeople in, they came up with the idea for this amendment, they
wrote this legislationlet an outside group write this legislation for them, and then they got out enough misinformed voters (“Vote YES if you think gay marriage is wrong!!!”) to win its passage.
So what the hell do we do now?
We keep talking about it.
We keep speaking out against it.
We keep fighting.
It would be great to imagine that the Supreme Court will sweep in and save the day here (and a ruling on California’s Prop 8 may well force that hand sooner rather than later), but that won’t do anything to change the minds of the people that voted for this amendment. We not only have to keep talking to get this amendment repealed, we have to keep talking to get this way of thinking repealed, too.
I grew up in a very rural county in Northeastern NC. I know that many people back home voted for this amendment (73% for, in fact). But I have friends, living there now, that didn’t. I know many more that grew up there, living in other areas of NC now, that also voted against. We all grew up in the same redneck place, listening to the same racist, sexist, homophobic views from our “old-fashioned” neighbors (and sometimes our own families), and hearing “God won’t love you if…” from our conservative church pulpits…and yet, we voted against. What does that tell you? It tells me that people’s hearts change.
It’s hard to change people’s minds. You can reason with someone until you’re blue in the face, but if their pastor/priest/mother told them one thing, especially if it’s based on their biblical training or their familial upbringing, then you are going to be hard-pressed to change it. It’s wedged in there. By the same token, you could recite scripture to me all day, and it won’t be meaningful in changing my mind, as I’m an atheist.
But you can change someone’s heart. Not on purpose, and not generally quickly, but it can happen. We can talk about the reasons that this amendment is wrong and terrible, and that information will change some folks’ minds. But what about the people that this amendment does wrong and terrible things to? I bet the people that voted for this amendment think they don’t know anyone it affects.
(Although, honestly, there are SO MANY unmarried straight couples with children in rural areas- what in the world were they thinking? I was counting on the self-preservation instincts of the straight folks to help out in voting against. This is one reason I say there was a lot of misinformation spread about what this amendment would really impact. But I digress…)
But all these people, they DO know someone it affects. I can guarantee you that almost everyone in my home county that voted for this amendment DOES know someone who is LGBTQ. They DO know someone that is in an unmarried, committed relationship. They DO know a child that depends on an unmarried partner’s insurance and legal protections. But the amendment wasn’t presented to them in that way. It was presented as a referendum on gay marriage, and if you’re a conservative Christian, you might feel as if there is only one way you can vote. (My conservative, evangelical friend Jimmy would like to tell you different, however.)
We have to get people talking about people, not ideas. It’s easy to say, “Gays are sinners and are going to hell.” It’s a bit harder to say, “My friend George and his partner, Keith, who take care of Keith’s grandma and also mow Mr. Johnson’s lawn since he got hurt are going to burn in the fiery pits of hell.” I’m not suggesting that LGBTQ folks should feel the need to be poster children for upright behavior so that the people that irrationally hate them will change their minds (and my sincere apologies if it came out that way!) What I’m trying to get at is that once you’re presented with a person- a real, live person, one that you know, one that is not a scary figure in the distance, but a co-worker, a neighbor, a friend, a family member- then it’s much harder to say that person is lesser than, unworthy, second-class.
“We are real people, not platforms.” -Caitlin Breedlove, co-director of SONG at a post-Amendment One press conference
I’ve seen people’s views on race and sexism change over my thirty-five years. I believe that we can change people’s hearts on LGBTQ issues, too. We can drive a little wedge of love in there. And then we can beat this thing.