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Another vote. Another constitutional amendment passed to ban marriage equality in a southern state.
This time it was North Carolina, a state that I have enjoyed visiting and spending time (and money). But I don't know that I want to go there anymore. Not after what 58 percent of the voters have done to my brothers and sisters. The electorate went to the polls and adopted an amendment which says, "marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."
I know what this feels like, my NC brothers and sisters. We went through a similar pain in Florida four years ago. On the night that all my straight friends, African-American friends, Democratic friends were giddy and gleeful and celebrating the Obama victory over John McCain, I was numb. I could not get into the spirit of the celebratory moment--our first black President--when I realized that 61-percent of the voters in the state had made me a second-class citizen. People who did not know me or my partner or my friends thought it was OK to say that my relationship was illegitimate. It was a pain that went so deep to my core that the next day, I could not look people in the eye. Not my clients. Not the barista at the coffee shop. And certainly not the woman who approached me as I sat crying to a dear friend about all of this. The woman wanted to help... and tried to hand me literature from the James Dobson "Focus on the Family" group (I am not making this up!).
Again, I go back to this line that I have posted before on this blog:
Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20)
What North Carolina has done to its LGBT population is hateful. I don't know how many of that 58-percent like to self-identify as "Christian", but for those who do I think they might want to consider what it means to be a capital "C" Christian. It begins with loving God... and is closely followed by loving your neighbor as yourself. How does passing Amendment One accomplish either of those two goals?
I am proud of the Episcopal leadership in North Carolina. Unlike what happened in Florida four years ago, all of the diocesan bishops from all three of the state's dioceses went on record in opposition to Amendment One. Thank you for taking a stand and showing that there are those in Christianity who do strive for justice and do respect the dignity of EVERY human being.
Tomorrow, LGBT North Carolinians are going to wake up to a world that feels extremely cold. To my straight brothers and sisters, I say please understand that this is an enormous ache for your queer friends. Please don't try to make it all better with statements that "your time is coming." Be kind. Listen. Let them cry and rail. Acknowledge the hurt. And then resolve for yourself that you will join us in standing for justice and work to overturn the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. Have the courage to call out your relatives and colleagues when they crack jokes at our expense. Join PFLAG. Get involved! We need your allied voices to be part of our demand for a better world...now.