As a transplant to Washington from North Carolina, today’s primary election — and the overwhelming vote in favor of Amendment One — was a disappointment.
SEATTLE — I was born and raised in North Carolina — the same as my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. We can trace both sides of my family ancestry back to North Carolina in the 18th century.
I have now lived in Seattle for 11 years and during all this time, I have always been proud to say I was from North Carolina.
But not today.
Today, North Carolina voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment that says the following:
Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.
I am deeply disappointed in my home state and what a new constitutional amendment means for my family and friends who live in North Carolina, as well as what it means for my chosen home of Washington State.
North Carolina already has a law that was passed in 1996 that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. This amendment will now be written in to the state’s constitution and with that comes many legal nuances that will take years to define in the court system. This is primarily because North Carolina law does not provide a definition for a “domestic legal union.” With no firm definition, many rights of North Carolinians are up for debate including employment-related benefits for heterosexual and homosexual domestic partners, domestic violence laws, child custody and visitation rights, and end-of-life arrangements. Those rights will now be decided in the courts.
For the foreseeable future, my North Carolina friends and family who are domestic partners — gay or straight — will live in uncertainty for the time being. I grew up thinking of North Carolina as the jewel of the South: world-class universities, robust industries, and unparalleled natural beauty. Heck, we even delivered Obama a win in 2008. But by rewriting the state constitution, my home state has taken a huge step backwards.
This decision reverberates beyond North Carolina — it also has implications for Washington State. The UW Election Eye team has done several stories about Amendment One, including its impact in Washington, the civil rights connection, and how social media played a role in the election. The majority of Washington legislators voted to allow same-sex marriage in our state, yet it is likely that those that oppose it will get enough signatures to put it on the ballot for vote this fall.
While the proposed ballot initiative doesn’t have the same far-reaching implications as the constitutional amendment in North Carolina, I don’t want to see North Carolina start a trend. Like North Carolina, I love Washington’s outdoors, our institutions of higher learning, and our economic vitality. Those are parallels I can support. But the intent of Amendment One? No thanks.
Public Policy Polling tweeted out this evening that Amendment One passed by more than the polling predicted — at the time of this post with more than 98% of votes reporting, there was over a 22 point spread:
Amendment’s going to pass by more than polls suggested as usually happens- something to keep in mind for MD, MN, and WA this fall #ncpol
— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) May 9, 2012
“I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.”
Like the landmark Loving case, today’s vote in North Carolina and the upcoming vote in Washington State is once again about marriage equality. It is something that heterosexuals take for granted every day. I got married this past year, and when my husband and I fell in love, it was never a question of if we could get married, it was a question of when. I will be proud to be from North Carolina again when that is also a choice for everyone — no matter their sexual orientation.
Follow on Twitter @laraunderhill