Saturday, January 21, 2012

We Are: United for Equality

An atheist's reflection on opposing Amendment One.
by Christi Sevits

The nonreligious and LGBT communities share a struggle for visibility and acceptance in society. This holds true here in North Carolina, where the state constitution is littered with religious invocations. The numerous references to a higher power begin in the preamble, which “acknowledg[es] our dependence upon Him.” Article VI, Section 8 declares that “any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God” is not qualified to serve in public office.

You might be wondering how this relates to LGBT rights. Legislation under the name of Amendment One is underway to constitutionally ban marriage between same-sex partners in North Carolina. The effects of this repugnant amendment endangers the rights of not only gay couples: it will revoke benefits of domestic partners, increase the difficulty of winning court cases involving child custody, and relax domestic violence laws to exclude an unmarried person from bringing an abusive partner to justice.

A lot of the passion I possess towards fighting bigotry in the state constitution comes from my identification as both atheist and bisexual. Amendment One passing means that North Carolina is telling non-heterosexuals they aren’t valued. This is where the We Are Campaign comes in: it strives to educate people on the amendment so that more unite against it. The campaign continues to gain momentum locally, as Coffeeology, The Green Bean, Greensboro Atheist Organization, the UNCG Democrats, and the UNCG Libertarians are a few groups who are pledging their help.

The state constitution already discriminates against atheists. I refuse to stand by and let a document meant to grant freedoms instead take away more rights from me. A resident of North Carolina for seventeen of my nearly twenty-one years, I am no less a citizen of this state than any heterosexual religious person. Why should the state give a damn if I want to marry a woman one day?

Defeating Amendment One will not legalize gay marriage. However, crushing this institutionalized homophobia shows that pro-equality North Carolinians refuse to back down. We cannot allow this amendment to leave a devastating stain on North Carolina’s fight for civil rights. A vote against the amendment on May 8th (early voting taking place from April 19th-May 5th) means a vote for equality.

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