North Carolina Passes Amendment One

I am a proud North Carolinian, who has lived in this state for 40 of my 44 years (I was born on an Air Force Base in Mississippi, and did a post-doc in England). I am not surprised that Amendment 1 has passed tonight, since polls have shown this was going to occur for some time. However, as it has occurred, it makes me feel not angry, but sad, in the “we can do better than this” sense.

It is also the first time I have seen my kids be interested in politics, and my 11th grader especially has been passionately opposed to Amendment 1, and she is disappointed. It is hard to see her first interest in politics end in disappointment, but that is a part of life.

I wrote my reasons for voting against Amendment 1, and some gave me feedback that it was too nuanced. For my daughter it was a simple matter of being opposed to denying a particular groups’ civil rights; no nuance whatsoever. That leads me to believe that the Amendment and its result won’t last very long.

As I reflect on recent politics in North Carolina, I realize that by far the more shocking election result was Barack Obama winning this state in 2008 (by ~14,000 votes out of over 4 Million cast). I was a late adopter of President Obama, in part because I viewed Hillary Clinton as inevitable, but mostly because I didn’t think a Black man with a funny name could be elected President, and I wanted my side to win.

Four years ago tonight, the North Carolina primary essentially put the President over the top, and I voted for him in the Primary, but even as I went to a celebration party that night, I was worried that he could not win. Even as I started going door-to-door canvassing in the Summer of 2008 for the Obama campaign, I just didn’t really believe that he could win in North Carolina. Of course he did, and I felt so proud of North Carolina on election night 2008 because I felt like we as a State voted our hopes, and not our fears.

Tonight I think it is just the opposite, and I feel sad, but I still love North Carolina. I know we can do better, and I think we eventually will.

Update: Here is Duke University’s message to employees on Amendment One not changing their provision of same sex spousal benefits.

Author: Don Taylor

Don Taylor is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at Duke University, where his teaching and research focuses on health policy, with a focus on Medicare generally, and on hospice and palliative care, specifically. He increasingly works at the intersection of health policy and the federal budget. Past research topics have included health workforce and the economics of smoking. He began blogging in June 2009 and wrote columns on health reform for the Raleigh, (N.C.) News and Observer. He blogged at The Incidental Economist from March 2011 to March 2012. He is the author of a book, Balancing the Budget is a Progressive Priority that will be published by Springer in May 2012.

17 thoughts on “North Carolina Passes Amendment One”

  1. Gays are not freaks or perverts. They are our fellow citizens. They go to work, pay their taxes, and take care of their lawns (better than yours truly most of the time in all likelihood). What part of that do voters not get? How hard is that to understand? Keep it simple; your daughter has it right.

    1. You’ve got something there with the lawn care. Howsabout a nationwide refusal to mow lawns until gay unions are recognised. It would be an easy protest to mount because letting your lawn go to hell would have the excuse of being morally high minded. Even people who don’t support gay rights but are just slovenly and lazy could use it as an excuse.
      It would drive right wing haters crazy. They would be forced to take extra care of their lawns just so nobody would think they were, you know, a little light in their sneakers. “Ifen your eight year old boy refuses to cut the grass, like a god fearin’ hetersexule you got to beat the devil otta him with a weed whacker! Kin ah hear an Amen?”

  2. While we are on the subject, if they really want a defense of marriage amendment, here it is:

    Dissolution of marriage shall not be granted by the United States or by any State except on grounds of adultery, whereof one of the parties shall have been duly convicted in a court of law.

      1. Didn’t Victorian and Edwardian England have something similar (albeit not four)? It is seemingly a staple of dramas set in that time period that in order to procure a desired divorce convincing evidence of adultery must be supplied, concocted if necessary. I seem to recall there’s some play in which an enterprising fellow has a business venture providing fake evidence of adultery to gentlemen wishing to obtain an amicable divorce for reasons unrelated to adultery, but needing proof of adultery to obtain the divorce.

    1. Give me that (although I’d prefer adultery, abuse, or abandonment) and I’ll donate my entire current savings to a pro-allowing-gay-marriage campaign.

  3. A silver lining might just be your eleventh grader’s having witnessed a wrong done, felt the injustice, carrying that with her as she likely helps create the kind of change that will inevitably bring freedom to North Carolinians.

    1. If that would happen before the heat-death of the universe, that would be nice.

  4. Right there with you, Don.

    I wonder what the pro-amendment voters will congratulate themselves tomorrow mornign on having accomplished. Even if one is a fervent talibangelical, there’s got to be a bit of a hollow victory in having prevented all the loving, committed gay couples from getting hitched, whereas wild, no-strings-attached sodomy continues unabated and legal as ever in flophouses, McMansions, and parish residences across the state.

    1. That is based on an assumption that the purpose of the legislative process is to legislate. It’s not. Its purpose is to periodically provide edifying moral spectacle.

  5. Don,

    Duke is free to do this because Duke is a private university (and I’m glad they did). What is going to happen at NC State and UNC-everywhere?

    1. @Dennis
      State employees haven’t had domestic partner benefits in the past so UNC and NCSU haven’t had this before. In fact, an explicit recruiting advantage for research staff(computer programmers, biostatisticians and the like) for Duke in this area has long been the presence of complete and relatively straightforward same sex domestic partner benefits.I believe some local govts have had same sex benefits. I am sure there will be various legal cases figuring out what exactly it was that NC did last night.

  6. Proud to know you, Don, and I couldn’t agree more. This particular campaign reminded me of Jesse Helms, both in the use of fear and in the way that it made people outside the state view North Carolina.
    You mentioning your daughter also made me think of a group of high school-aged girls who were sitting around and talking while I waited for my daughter to finish ballet yesterday. They were talking about the various things high school girls talk about, and they came around to Amendment One, and it was almost like they couldn’t understand why it was even being discussed. For people of a certain age, this is not even an issue any more.
    And then you see the photo the N&O had of the two old women hugging each other to celebrate the victory, standing in front of the giant photo of Billy Graham. Poor guy can’t even make public appearances any more so they drag his photo out to remind people that God is watching you.
    Their time is passing. Pity we couldn’t have accelerated the process.

    1. @Will
      Yes, I think there is a big generational divide. Not really sure what will happen with various court cases, though I don’t see how a state challenge can be launched against an amendment, so it would have to be a federal challenge I presume along the lines that Loving v. Va defined marriage as a civil right….I think the Prop 8 Calif case is along these lines. I am unsure if there might be legal challenges to try and force employers like Duke from stopping what they are doing. I just don’t know.

      I have been surprised by the degree to which elected Republicans in NC have been fairly quiet today, with a few exceptions. I suspect the country club Republicans are having some buyers remorse on the Republicans controlling the House and Senate for the first time since 1892 (not a typo, though it is a bit misleading because the NC Dems and Repubs essentially switched sides ~1960;meaning there were plenty of conservatives in the NC House and Senate during the 20th Century), and this could actually give Dalton a shot against McCrory along the lines of you need someone to stop the crazies, etc. I don’t actually think this is likely to be much of a signal about the Presidential race in NC which I think will be very close again.

      1. “I suspect the country club Republicans are having some buyers remorse on the Republicans controlling the House and Senate for the first time since 1892”

        I think that’s quite possible. There are a fair number of Republicans who are Republicans not because they disagree with Democrats, but because the Democratic nomination was already tied up when they decided to run for office, (Colin Powell) or they happened to live in an area where the Democrats weren’t organized enough to bother with.

        Such ‘Republicans’ will take, publicly, the positions they find necessary to get Republican votes, so as to be seen fighting the ‘good’ fight, but they really don’t want to prevail on a lot of the causes they need to be seen fighting for.

        The national GOP got in trouble over this after ’94, when they inadvertently found themselves in the majority, and their usual “go down fighting” strategy became too obviously taking a dive. Suddenly the base of the party understood that a fair number of their champions had been throwing the fights all along, and that they were never going to win on some things until they purged the RINOs.

        The purge still has a long way to go, given the power of incumbency, but it’s starting to bear fruit. Some are really distressed by the resulting ‘gridlock’, but the Republican base doesn’t want their representatives helping Democrats to get done the things they were sent to stop.

        But, yes, this does distress some ‘Republicans’, who really would have been more comfortable if they could have been Democrats.

        Back on topic, look at this. Ballot proposals such as North Carolina’s win almost everywhere they’re tried, even in California. Changes to law favorable to same sex marriage are almost always at the legislative or judicial level, not the popular level.

        It’s one of those topics where the political class and the general population are decidedly not on the same page.

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