This evening I was given some terrible news: The vote on NC SB 106 and NC HB 777 has been moved up from September to tomorrow. These sequences of letters and numbers sound innocent on their own, but they sound ominous when you know what they refer to: A pair of bills introduced to the North Carolina General Assembly trying to write discrimination into our State Constitution. If passed, the public will decide whether or not to amend the Constitution to explicitly prohibit any and all legal recognition of same-sex couples in North Carolina.
Not only is this news disheartening, it also makes me somewhat thankful.
I am not, nor will I ever be, thankful for the hateful hearts that fill our world. Same-sex marriages are currently illegal in North Carolina and writing this into our constitution is merely an act of intolerance. It speaks volumes of the hatred and bias that runs through the veins of every man and woman who has supported these bills. I need not give names; their hate will return to them someday, and I can only pray they may change their ways before it’s too late. No one–not even them–deserves to be treated with such malice. I pray their hearts may open to the harm their hands are causing even as we speak, as I write these words, as you read them.
What, then, do I have to be thankful for at a time like this?
Our government, even with all its flaws, is representative. I’ll be the first to announce that my knowledge of politics is severely lacking (a fact I hope to change this fall by taking an American Government class, a course not required to graduate, but one I feel it is my civic duty to take), but I know enough to know–or at least to believe–that our government is run by people we have put there, people who do as we wish them to.
Even though my understanding is flawed (and I invite anyone informed to tell me how much this is the case and to correct my wrongs where applicable), I know also that when I call and leave messages for my legislators, they listen to them. Maybe my words are too weak to sway their decisions, but sometimes being given that open ear (even if it is attached to a closed mind) is enough to make speaking worthwhile in the first place.
I thought of a status I wanted to post the other day, though it never made my Facebook page: There is nothing more powerful than silence and nothing more profound than a single voice.
It takes one word to start a conversation, to open a passage between people, to start a renaissance of any kind. It takes one word, in the mythology I’m so ardently crafting, to create the world itself. One word–Kur–is spoken and everything comes into existence. Here, already, I have written over four hundred words–and if with each I have created a world, with their blending I have built a universe. However, as I build this one world, many others have built theirs, and these worlds fill a greater space and vie for dominance, for equilibrium. Some start an orbit around a greater light; others crash in dazzling displays of volcanic eruptions and earth-shattering tremors. Some live together; others die alone.
Earlier this evening I called both my legislators to plead with them not to favor the passage of these bills tomorrow. The right to marry, I told them, in fact any civil right, should not be up for popular vote. Just as we resort to juries and judges to decide the death penalty, we should resort to legislators and judges to decide the equally as life-changing decisions concerning civil rights–whether it’s equal suffrage, abortion, or same-sex marriage, it doesn’t matter. These are not issues to be taken lightly. They are not issues to be left in the hands of the uneducated and the biased, of faith-driven extremists and bigoted millionaires. These are issues of utmost importance not small enough to be put before the common person.
Yet we live in a representative world. These concerns are their concerns. These laws are their laws. These decisions are their decisions. But we can still act to change their minds, to inform them, to let them see a little more of where we stand, of the hearts we hold inside us, in the hope that their closed minds might open up even a little.
I wrote my local representative and she wrote back, “I’m not supporting discrimination; I’m giving our
citizens a voice in this issue.” But as I just explained, this is not an issue to be given to the populace! Parents do not, at least should not, let their children decide where the family will live or where they will work; they may take their words into careful consideration, but in the end, the choice is up to the parents, not the child. Legislators should act the same–on issues of this importance, they should listen and weigh the opinions of their constituents carefully and delicately, but in the end, the decisions should be theirs and no one else’s.
Let’s face it, popular vote stripped away equal rights in California, and in the late sixties, if the decision to legalize interracial marriage were left to popular vote, it never would have happened.
Please, for all of my readers in North Carolina, take this moment–right now, the moment you finish reading this–to exercise your right to be represented. Find your legislators (I’ll have a link at the end) and call them to voice your opinion on these bills. I hope that all of you understand the importance of equality and believe same-sex couples deserve the same rights as any other couple, and I hope you encourage your representatives to not vote for these bills, but if you feel otherwise, if you sincerely believe that people like me should never have the right to have our love and our families recognized before the law, then please call anyways and let your voice be heard. We may be on opposite sides of this issue, but your voice is as important as mine, and though it will break many heartstrings beating inside my chest to know this will be put to popular vote, so long as our legal system has properly done its job of representation, I cannot weep for too long.
To find your legislators, you can go to this page, part of the General Assembly’s website, and enter your county or zip code or use the voter lookup feature to find your representatives.
Please don’t delay. Our rights are on the line.