So I’m disappointed by the outcome of the vote in North Carolina. Most of you who know me personally were probably expecting some sort of pithy slam at North Carolina voters, but when it comes to politics I find emotion to be rather akin to putting lipstick on a pig – it’s pointless, ineffective, and it annoys the pig. It also explains why a certain muppet is always so tightly wound.
It got me thinking about what’s wrong with this country. No, I’m not talking about palazzo pants, or New Jersey, or the fact that anybody still takes what Madonna does seriously – I’m talking about the fact that somebody decided that democracy was about letting governments put civil rights initiatives up to a public vote. It seems to be the prevailing idea in these United States that the pool of civil rights to be had is limited, and that awarding more civil rights to more people somehow depletes the pool and requires that other rights be taken away to compensate.
Funny how North Carolina should consider items of such importance should be left to a vote, when there doesn’t seem to be a high opinion of the practice. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution (the one that allowed women to vote) was ratified by the requisite number of states in 1920. North Carolina, however, did not get around to officially ratifying the Amendment until 1971 (although stragglers are apparently not uncommon; Mississippi did not ratify the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery, until 1995). Of course, the Amendments were certified as law long before that, but it’s the principle, right?
But back to the original thesis. How fair is it, really, for the rights of a few people to be decided by the majority who, as much as they might say their own rights will be somehow compromised, are really quite unaffected by either outcome? I’ve heard wonderfully philosophical, well-argued rebuttals such as:
Religious institutions will be required to perform gay weddings. Sorry kids, that ain’t how it works. The state only determines who can get married. No state requires any private, religious officiant (who is not a public official, who is paid with public funds to provide public services to all citizens) to perform a wedding ceremony against their personal beliefs, or even their own free will. Just ask the Catholic Church – there’s a whole laundry list of people they won’t marry, and it’s perfectly legal for them to refuse. No change. Next Argument.
I don’t want the government forcing schools to teach my children that the gay lifestyle is normal. Because the free education provided by the government is meant to be all-encompassing and completely tailored to the vastly differing religious and moral beliefs of each individual family. Shit, no. The most controversial topic we got into in health and social studies when I was in school was why girls sometimes take their backpack with them when they go to the bathroom. Our biology teacher even had to preface the whole Evolution thing with “We understand you may not believe this, but you have to learn what the theory says, so kwitcherbitchen, A’ight?”
And my personal favorite, “Well next people will want the right to marry their animals.” ‘Cause that happens every day, and I’ll bet my ABBA collection that when it does happen, it’s ironically some low-level bureaucrat in North Carolina who takes that infosession question. Seriously, where do they come up with this stuff? Dogs are not people, and cannot enter into civil contracts. You know who else can’t enter into civil contracts? Minors. But North Carolina allows citizens as young as 14 to be married with parental consent.
Oh, fine, NC, so I can’t have my civil rights and eat them too. I’ll just wait. And some day, when we’re older and gay marriage has been legal forever, somebody from Raleigh or Charlotte or Fayetteville is going to come up to me and say “I don’t know what we were thinking back then, we were such ignorant assholes.”
And I’ll say “I know. I can’t believe I bought Madonna’s new album either.”