Regardless of whether North Carolina’s discriminatory Amendment One passes today, the fight has already provided important insight about the fate of marriage equality in 2012 and the years to come.
The final polling released this weekend shows Amendment One passing 55-39, but when asked if they would support it knowing it bans civil unions, poll respondents said they’d defeat it 44-39. It does ban civil unions, but most people do not understand that, and the measure’s wording does not specify it. In addition, numerous law professors have outlined how the amendment could create legal problems for domestic violence protections and other benefits offered to non-married opposite-sex couples. These consequences are the result of broad language pushed by the Alliance Defense Fund, an anti-gay hate group. Because voters don’t understand these points, The New York Times’ statistical guru Nate Silver believes Amendment One will pass, but he points out that in early voting, more Democratic ballots have been requested than Republican ballots, including in socially liberal strongholds like Durham and Wake Counties.
Though confusion may win out, the Amendment One fight has demonstrated just how polarized positions on marriage equality have become. Among opponents of the anti-gay measure are people of faith, political leaders, business leaders, Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Jason Mraz, George Takei, and some of the very Republican state lawmakers who advanced it to begin with. Proponents, on the other hand, have only the most vitriolic conservative Christian leaders, such as Sean Harris, who advocated violence against gender non-conforming youth, Ron Baity, who still wants to prosecute homosexuality, Mark Harris, who outright condemns homosexuality as sinful, and Catholic Church leaders, whose rhetoric betrays the massive support for marriage equality among Catholics. And though groups like the National Organization for Marriage have continued attempts to foster racial divisions, people of color have been speaking out against the amendment and creating visibility for LGBT people of color, especially in the wake of Jodie Brunstetter’s comments last week that the “Caucasian” race would benefit from its passage.
If Amendment One passes, it will not represent a victory for conservatives’ values, but merely for their ability to misinform voters. Never before has it been so clear that marriage equality is a battle between an anti-gay past maintained by a few and an inclusive future lauded by the masses. As the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families makes clear in its final video before today’s vote, the chorus of voices speaking out for the freedom to marry is ever-growing: