Marriage Equality Update

Gay marriage legal in Mecklenburg County

A reader provides it this time:

Maybe I missed it, but how have you not posted on gay marriages happening in North Carolina?  I guess it’s a sign of how radically things have shifted that Jesse Helms’ state is now performing gay marriages and the Dish doesn’t even post on it : )

The Getty caption for the above photo reads:

Lynda Johnson, center, cries as she watches her daughter Kandyce Johnson, left, marry Jana Downs outside the Mecklenburg County and Courts Office building on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 in Charlotte, N.C. Monday was the first day that gay couples could marry in Mecklenburg County after a judge’s ruling. By Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT via Getty Images.

Another reader reflects at length:

I had never had a strong opinion one way or another on the issue of marriage equality until I moved to North Carolina.

I grew up in Michigan and had a vague sense that a constitutional marriage amendment was wrong, and when it came up for a vote in 2004 I voted against it. My primary reason was the sense than a friend of mine who happened to be gay deserved to marry anyone she wanted just as much as I did. At the time, however, I couldn’t understand how anyone could find civil unions to be an unreasonable compromise. While opposed to enshrining discrimination into a constitution I still couldn’t appreciate the significance, let alone the necessity, of marriage equality.

As time went by this vague sense of wrongness became more and more fixed. As more of my friends felt comfortable being who they were and sharing their committed relationships publicly I began to see how wrong asking them to settle for a civil union would be. They responded to their loves exactly as I responded to mine. The benefits I received from marriage at that time had nothing to do with procreation. I started to see through the flimsy arguments made in favor of the status quo.

When Thom Tillis and others came to power in North Carolina and started making noises about adding an amendment to our state’s constitution in 2012, I finally began to understand I needed to use my voice. For the first time I had something to say about marriage equality and felt like it was time to say something to people who often vehemently disagreed with me.

I don’t share any of this because I feel like I’ve done anything. I share this because of what you and so many other people did. By sharing your voice on the Dish every day, by posting so many supporting and dissenting opinions, you challenged my level of empathy. You challenged me to see the United States of America as being capable of more than it was and at the same time not quite as perfect as I wanted it to be. I didn’t like what I found at first. In the end you taught me a lot about this issue but really you taught me a lot about myself. We’ve never met. We probably never will. But I owe you and the Dish a great deal.

Today [Friday], my state’s horrific decision to enshrine discrimination into its constitution was struck down. For the first day ever I lived in a state where all people who love each other can benefit equally from joining in marriage.

It doesn’t affect me, directly. But at the same time, it does. The days where you can personally see a nation becoming a “more perfect union” are rare throughout your life. But this day is one of those times. I wish you could be here. Those of us who spoke out and tried to change minds in 2012 came up short. But every day seeing men and women be who they are, seeing them fight through centuries of prejudice and bigotry to say this time things will be different … it’s hard to describe what I feel today watching people enjoy this opportunity they never should have been denied.