Same-Sex Marriage Ban: Bigotry Isn’t Only a Southern Brew

Only the gray states lack an amendment prohibiting gay marriage

I‘m a native North Carolinian and my state turned to the dark side this past Tuesday, voting to amend or state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, indeed any type of union other than a so-called traditional marriage between a man and a woman. I don’t know if that means in the tradition of Kim Kardashian or if those who voted for the amendment have something a bit bit longer in mind before it counts as a marriage.

I voted against the amendment as did all the people with whom I’m still speaking. I have no patience with bigotry of any sort and there is no rational basis for such beliefs. The I’m entitled to my opinion” argument doesn’t fly with me. I’m entitled to discontinue all association with you if you choose to be a bigot.

However it is not my intent to rant about bigotry in this post.

I am disturbed at a trend that I’ve spotted among quite a few non-Southern folks to declare this anti-gay marriage bigotry to be a Southern problem. It’s not that I mind well-deserved criticism directed at my state for the recent vote to add legalized discrimination to our state constitution. I am disturbed because as long as it’s the other guy who is responsible, then we avoid uniting in a collective effort to dismantle these laws as in clear violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  History is littered with denials of rights up to and including genocide in which everyone says, “Who me? I didn’t approve of it. It was ________.” (fill in the blank).

Thirty-one states have amended their constitutions to declare that marriage is between a man and a woman. Unless the South has cloned itself, this problem extends way beyond the South.

What North Carolina has done is draw attention to this problem yet again. By the way. Minnesota plans to vote on this issue in November. I’m not good at geography, but I’m pretty certain that Minnesota is not in the South. It was particularly disturbing to read one person’s comment, on a blog post about North Carolina’s recent vote, asserting that she lived in Virginia and would not set foot in North Carolina because of the passage of Amendment One. Virginia already has a constitutional amendment preventing gay marriage. It’s as if the country has been asleep since around 2004 when state legislatures began amending state constitutions to enshrine bigotry as legal.

Only six states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages as of May 2012. Wikipedia has a good article identifying which states have passed anti-gay marriage amendments and the effect of those amendments that is accurate up until May 2012. It includes NC’s recent vote.

sheria reidUntil we face the reality that bigotry knows no geographical boundaries, we’re simply going to engage in periodic indignation when homophobia slaps us in the face, blame it on the south and then go on about our business, secure in the myth that only those other people practice bigotry. Thirty-one states down, only 19 more to go. This is a national issue, not a southern one and we need a national strategy to address it.

Sheria Reid
The Examined Life

Posted: Monday, 14 May 2012

Published by the LA Progressive on May 14, 2012
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About Sheria Reid

Sheria Reid is a native of eastern North Carolina. She is a former high school English teacher, a licensed attorney and currently works as a legislative analyst at the North Carolina state legislature.